Five new faces in Under-17 Reggae Boyz squad

BY HOWARD WALKER Observer senior reporter

Monday, February 16, 2015

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THREE US-based players were among five new faces included in Jamaica's Under-17 20-member squad for the CONCACAF Championship set for Honduras beginning later this month.

Strikers Nathaniel Adamolekun (Orlando City, USA) and Zaire Bartley (New York Red Bull, USA) along with defender Jahlanie Hammond (Miramar United, USA), join the St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) duo of utility players Demar James and Chris-Andrew Dixon, who didn't play in the Caribbean qualifier in Haiti last October.

Head coach Andrew Edwards is satisfied with the make-up of the squad, but wanted another left-footed defender.

"I am very satisfied with the team, but if there was one thing that I would love to have had is another genuine left-footed defender. We weren't able to find any of the quality that we would have liked in the time we had, so we have to go with what have," Edwards told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

He continued: "Even those who are not genuine left-footers have shown enough competence both in training and in competitive international games and have given us the confidence to go ahead with them."

However, Edwards was a bit disappointed that he had to drop goalkeeper Jabulani Lindsay of Titchfield High School.

"He has come along very nicely and steadily, and were we in a situation where we were carrying more than 20 players he definitely would have made the cut. We went ahead with the experience which played in the two previous rounds," noted Edwards.

But, by and large, he was more than pleased with the additions and believes they have strengthened the team significantly.

"Most people would have known Chris-Andrew (Dixon) playing for STETHS for two seasons now and still not 17 years old, and he certainly will add a lot of depth to our midfield and can also play as a defender if needs be," Edwards said.

"Demar James is a utility-type player that can play right across the midfield and could also fit in as a defender, and definitely can also play as a striker. Those two players give a lot of options.

"Jahlanie Hammond brings a lot of poise and composure to the defensive set-up and certainly will compete strongly for a starting spot.

"Zaire Bartley is a very interesting wide player who can also play as a striker; again the dynamics of the player is important there. He scored a wonderful goal for us in one of the practice matches," said Edwards.

"Nathaniel Adamolekun, he is definitely a goalscoring person and one who creates a lot of chances for his team, and he will complement the existing strikers we have quite nicely. He adds a different dimension as well, and at 6'3", and the pace that he has, and the technical ability, we see that he is one that will give us some variety going forward," said Edwards.

The rest of the squad that will leave the island on Thursday for two international friendly games against Costa Rica on the February 21 and 24 are Jahmali Waite (JC), Akheem Chambers (St Jago), Javain Brown (KC), Jahwahni Hinds (Calabar), Fabian Grant (Camperdown), Ajeanie Talbott (JC), Anthoniel Mullings (Penwood High), Shandel Senior (Vere Technical), Peter-Lee Vassell (Cornwall College), Tajea Brown (Camperdown), Deshane Beckford (Rusea's), Alex Marshall (St George's College), Nicholas Nelson (Hydel High), Hakim Williams (Calabar), Donavan Dawkins (JC).

Jamaica are drawn in Group A of the CONCACAF Championship alongside host Honduras, Guatemala, USA, Trinidad and Tobago, and Cuba.

Group B consists of Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, Panama, St Lucia and Haiti. Four teams will qualify for the FIFA World Cup set for Chile in October 2015.

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