Sport

Gama wants support for talented U-20s

BY HOWARD WALKER Observer Senior Reporter walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, August 24, 2012    

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JAMAICA'S Under-20 Brazilian coach Luciano Gama is pleading with corporate Jamaica to support the youth teams following their encouraging 2-1 win over Montego Bay United to lift the St Andrew Football Association's (KSAFA) Champions League trophy on Wednesday night.

The Under-20 unit was invited to participate in the tournament to get quality game time and experience for the World Cup Qualifiers in November, and Gama was more than pleased with what the youngsters' showing against much older players.

"We hope somebody saw them and give support because they deserve it. We're not disappointed, but we know something better can be done," Gama pointed out.

"The (Jamaica Football) Federation (JFF) has a lot of problems and somebody needs to help and put a little bit more in the Federation and support the boys. We have a very good team and a very good Under-17 team," he noted.

Jamaica, who will be hosting the eight-team final Caribbean round World Cup Qualifiers, are drawn in Group B alongside Cuba, Suriname and Antigua and Barbuda.

"We will be home and will show Jamaica what we can do and go to CONCACAF and I know we can qualify for the next World Cup," said a confident Gama as the Young Reggae Boyz celebrated in the background.

He added: "I saw a lot of personality and the will to win; a lot of maturity although they had some ups and downs that is normal for their age."

Goals by defender Kareem Manning and Omar Holness in the 13th and 27th minutes secured the win, while Brian Brown pulled one back for Montego Bay United in the 53rd for a tournament-leading fourth goal.

The Under-20s, clearly the crowd favourite in the KSAFA tournament involving Premier League teams and KSAFA Divisional champions, turned in some sterling displays and beat four top-flight outfits in the process.

They opened their campaign with a 2-0 win over last season's second placed Premier League team Boys' Town and followed that up with a close 1-0 win over Arnett Gardens.

They then suffered consecutive losses 1-2 to Rae Town and 0-1 to Harbour View before rebounding in style with a 3-2 semi-final victory over Cavalier and a 2-1 triumph over a MoBay United team that got three red cards in the final.

Ladale Ritchie first picked up his second caution in the 71st minute and was followed by Graeme Green two minute later for abusive language.

Goalkeeper Jacomena Barrett joined the red card party after the final whistle.

Team manager Roy Simpson acknowledge the importance of this morale-boosting win, especially playing with a Jamaican team that comprises only KSAFA Under-20 players.

"We must distinguish that this is a KSAFA Under-20 and we will inject some of the rural players to continue preparations for the tournament in November," said Simpson.

"The point must be made that these are Premier League teams and the others are champions in their respective KSAFA competitions and if we can play against them... the average age on our team is 18 and if they can come out victorious, it's a good sign going into the tournament," he noted.

"We will keep them in camp and carry them around the island to play against different teams and hope that we will have an international camp with them.

"But we will keep the unit together and the coaches will step down the programme and continue the technical and background work," said Simpson.

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