‘Passion, purpose, desire!’
...Three key words that fuel Under-17
It may be very easy for these three beautiful words — passion, purpose and desire — to flow from one’s lips.
But bet your bottom dollar that they will be harder to live up to in real-life scenarios. Notwithstanding, these are the gems that will represent a call to arms and the source of fuel in Jamaica’s Under-17 Reggae Boyz’s campaign as they pursue the elusive World Cup dream.
As they leave their island home behind today for Panama to compete in the World Cup-qualifying CONCACAF Under-17 Championship, Andrew Edwards’ Young Boyz will make no promises of grandeur.
Instead, they have wisely assured their most important stakeholder, the Jamaican people, that in their efforts to bring glory home they can only guarantee “to give one hundred per cent honest effort” at every turn.
“We will not be promising anybody anything, but we will give a clear indication of our commitment and that commitment is in everything that we do out there.
“We will give everything we can on the pitch to ensure that our performance can be as efficient as they can be, and once we can do that, then results will fall in our favour.
“We cannot promise any result and we would never dare do that, but we want to commit to be a team together and not a group of individuals — a team of passion, a team of purpose, and a team of desire. That’s our promise,” was the vow of Edwards when he spoke with the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
On paper, Jamaica’s Group C seemed a death trap with the considered confederation big wigs the USA, Mexico and Central American campaigners El Salvador in the mix, but the island’s front-line soldiers are undaunted.
“At this level we don’t really regard USA and Mexico as giants, therefore we are very confident and we back ourselves to be very competitive to even go on and win the games necessary for us to qualify for the World Cup... we have to maintain that belief,” Edwards said with an air of confidence.
The Boyz, who have been in preparation mode since finishing third in the Caribbean finals in Trinidad and Tobago last September, are eager to show the world what they have learnt over the many months.
“We are very happy that the moment is at hand… the fact is we have given the best that we could give to the preparation of the team given the circumstances and resources available to us, and we are now very eager to put that to the test against the USA, El Salvador and Mexico, and hopefully we will progress to the next stage,” Edwards noted.
The Jamaican coach, who still feels the burning sensation from the sting of narrowly missing out on qualification in the 2015 campaign, has already started to map specific strategies and general approaches going into the first game against the USA on Sunday.
“What will be important at all stages of the games is to ensure that we are very solid defensively and use that to be a springboard for our attacking efforts. Obviously each team will present different challenges; apart from the USA, we would have an opportunity to scout the other teams inside the tournament.
“With regards to the USA, we have to rely on games we played against them back in November and games they would have played subsequently, and we would have put together a technical plan that would give us the best advantage, and once we have that technical plan, then the key would be to execute that plan as effectively as we possibly can,” he reasoned.
In a two-match friendly series against the USA in Kingston late last year, the Jamaicans went down 0-3 and 0-4.
With nine defenders named in the 20-man squad for Panama, Edwards sought to assure enquiring minds that the number should not be interpreted to suggest that the team will adopt a ultra-defensive stance.
“We selected the team not purely on numbers in terms of how many strikers, midfielders and defenders. What we did was to look at the quality of the players available to us and how best we can make this work for us given the way we want the team to play.
“Certainly we don’t think we are going to go into this tournament to steamroll any team at all, but we believe that it is important to have players who can serve multiple functions, and at the same time can provide foundation, which is a solid defensive block upon which we can build our efforts to launch our offensive forays.
“I don’t think the numbers, in and of themselves, suggest that we don’t have enough attackers in the team as all our midfield players are attacking threats, so too our defenders, if not on set plays; our wing backs will get forward and far enough to be a threat on goal,” Edwards ended.
After opening their account against the USA on Sunday, the Young Boyz will take on El Salvador next Wednesday and finish the preliminary phase against Mexico three days later.
The top two teams from each of the three zones will progress to the Classification Stage, where they will be split into two groups of three. The top four finishers of these play offs advance to the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in India October 6-28.
Group A will be contested by Panama, Honduras, Curacao and Haiti, while Costa Rica, Canada, Cuba and Suriname will do battle in Group B.
Squad — Goalkeepers: Daniel Russell (Manchester High School), Tajay Griffiths (Wolmer’s Boys’); defenders: Jamoi Topey (Camperdown High), Kimani Gibbons (St Jago High), Akeem Mullings (Vauxhall High), Richard Thompson (Herbert Morrison Technical), Casseam Priestley (Kingston College), Calwayne Allen (St James High), Shane Ricketts (Little London High), Damani Osei (Cosby High School, USA), Kendall Edwards (Parkview High, USA); midfielders: Kaheem Parris (Dinthill Technical), Coby Atkinson (Beaverton High, USA), Renato Campbell (Kingston College), Blake White (Atlanta, USA), Jeremy Verley (Milton Academy, USA), Jermaine Lyons (Denham Town High); forwards: Raewin Senior (Excelsior High), Nicque Daley (Clarendon College), Ricardo McIntosh (Clarendon College).