Downswell likes U-17s ahead of qualifiers
A week away from hosting the Caribbean Qualifiers for the 2013 CONCACAF U-17 Championship, Jamaican head coach Wendell Downswell is satisfied with the progress being made by his young charges.
"Things are going in the right perspective and I think the preparation has not been bad; it is satisfactory at this stage for this leg," said Downswell.
Jamaica, who qualified for the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2011, will host a three-team group involving Bermuda and Antigua and Barbuda in Kingston from July 11-15.
The Caribbean leg was scheduled to start yesterday with Cuba and Haiti hosting four-team groups. Trinidad and Tobago will also host a series from July 24-28.
The five group winners and the best second-placed team will advance to the final six-team Caribbean qualifiers, with the top three gaining spots to the CONCACAF Championship set for April 6-19, 2013.
Downswell, who has the distinction of being the most recent Jamaican coach to lead a team to a FIFA World Cup Finals, has been impressed with the current crop of players.
"We had an all-island trial and selected some players and brought them into camp for training. Then we entered into the Kingston and St Andrew Football Association (KSAFA) U-20 competition with the Corporate Area team playing on Wednesday and the squad itself plays on weekends," he noted.
"That was good in terms of the response from the players and we were able to expose a large volume and the technical staff had a good opportunity to look at them under match condition," added Downswell.
The young Reggae Boyz, playing among players two to three years older, have won seven of their 10 games so far. They drew twice, with their only defeat coming against Harbour View.
"In terms of the competition, it served as a catalyst for our competition going forward. Overall, the exercise was good for... the youngsters, although there were challenges...," he said.
Jamaica are favoured to brush aside Bermuda and Antigua and advance to the next stage of the qualifiers from August 19-30.