Young Boyz cruise
…But head coach plans scouting mission
DESPITE easily qualifying for the final round of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) 2015 FIFA World Cup, Jamaica Under-17 head coach Andrew Edwards knows there is work still to be done and will embark on another scouting mission.
Jamaica topped Group One with maximum nine points from three games, scoring an amazing 27 times while conceding three goals, all coming in the game against Cayman Islands.
They defeated US Virgin islands 19-0, Cayman Islands 5-3, coming from two goals down, and Guadeloupe 3-0, to join Cuba, Barbados, Martinique, Trinidad and Tobago, and Haiti who will host the last CFU qualifying round set for late September.
"That was expected of Jamaica at this stage of the competition. So achieving three from three was not a major surprise or would I consider it a major achievement," Edwards told the Jamaica Observer on Wednesday night after the last win.
"But what it has done is given us an opportunity to go to the next stage and to grow from where we were when we started," he noted.
Jamaica had to avoid defeat against Guadeloupe to advance automatically and they did so in style with a polished 3-0 victory.
Stand-in striker Nicholas Nelson of Hydel High School, who replaced the injured Justin McMaster of Hillel Academy, grabbed two goals in the 23rd and 33rd minutes, while Donovan Dawkins sealed the win in the 53rd minute for his eighth goal from three games. He had scored seven times against the US Virgin islands last Saturday.
So dominant were the Jamaicans that Guadeloupe first shot at goal came about the 80th minute and coach Edwards was pleased with the performance.
"What we saw today (Wednesday) demonstrates a lot of growth from the first and especially the second game in terms of the composure of the players to keep calm and move the ball around and execute the game plan in what we practised in training," he said.
"I can't say enough of how proud we are of these youngsters. They showed a great desire for learning and improving and I want to applaud them for that," said Edwards.
The young Reggae Boyz will vie for one of five spots from the Caribbean for the CONCACAF Final round in Honduras next year towards the 2015 FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Chile. Four teams from CONCACAF will qualify for the Under-17 World Cup.
The 2015 CONCACAF Under-17 Championship will include 12 teams: five from the CFU, four from the Central American Football Union (UNCAF), and three from North America.
A new format favouring development and competition will be introduced to the Under-17 Championship and the 12 qualifying teams in CONCACAF will be divided into two groups of six to play a round-robin format on the first five match days.
The resulting top team from each group will earn a direct berth to the FIFA Under-17 World Cup and a place in the championship match on the final day.
With this in mind, Edwards will not be sitting on his laurels and he knows the current team needs strengthening in their pursuit of World Cup glory and has already identified a forward, Dantae Greer, of New York Red Bull Academy, to join the squad.
"In terms of the players we have, we know that we are short in some areas and we will be having a couple of scouting missions to try and identify additional talent," he admitted to the Observer.
"We have a camp starting on Friday with local-based players and we will have one player coming in from New York Red Bulls Academy, and we hope that he will bring some quality. And of course, the local players, we hope to find some additional quality in the areas we think we are deficient," he added.
"We want to sit down and look at what we have achieved in terms of progress from where we started. I want to make some proposals to the JFF and hopefully the JFF will find the resources needed to give us the opportunity to prepare properly and then we go forward from there," said Edwards.