Sport

T&T friendlies valuable exercise ahead of CFU finals — Gilbert

BY SHERDON COWAN
Observer staff reporter
cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, November 09, 2017

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Jamaica's Under-20 Reggae Girlz's preparation phase for to the final round of Caribbean qualifiers has been given a significant boost as they have secured two friendly encounters against Trinidad & Tobago.

The two fixtures to be hosted by the twin-island republic on November 16 and 18 will serve as a worthwhile warm-up exercise berfore flying north to St Kitts & Nevis for the November 22— 26 CFU finals.

Assistant coach Xavier Gilbert welcomed the games, taking a two-fold view on the significance of the friendlies.

Firstly, he claims, it will aid in their bid to secure one of two spots in the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship in January next year.

It will also aid in the Jamaicans having an early look-in on the Trinidadian team with the country already booking a spot in next year's play-offs as the host of the CONCACAF Championship round.

“These two games will do us very good as we will get to see where we are and, of course, we have some additional players who didn't make the last trip who will be with us this time around. So the aim is to get them to play together and just get that team chemistry going ahead of the tournament to ensure that we advance to the CONCACAF stage in January,” Gilbert told the Jamaica Observer.

“It will also assist us in seeing the build-up of the Trinidad team, as they will also be hosting the CONCACAF stage, so should we find ourselves in their group, we would already have an idea of what their structure is like. But with that said, our focus is to take it one round and a game at a time and improve as we go along,” he added.

In St Kitts and Nevis, the young Reggae Girlz will square off against the hosts, Dominican Republic and Haiti.

The top two teams will progress to the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship, where the Caribbean champions would find themselves pitted in Group B alongside defending champions United States and another powerhouse in Mexico, along with Central American outfit Nicaragua.

The runner-up team will be pitted in Group A alongside Trinidad & Tobago, Costa Rica and Canada.

The top-three teams of the tournament will qualify for the FIFA Under-20 Women's World Cup in France.

“We are going to give it our best run in order to get there (World Cup) because that is the ultimate goal, but like I said, we are taking it in strides as we go along and with consistent improvements, I know our girls will be competitive.

“They are currently in good spirits and excited to go on this assignment ahead of the real assignment, and we are confident of some good performances across the two games. They are progressing nicely and, like I said earlier, we have some new players coming in, so the aim is to get them to gel as best as possible before going into St Kitts,” the tactician explained.

The young Reggae Girlz, who easily progressed through the first phase of the Caribbean round with 10-0 and 2-1 beating of Curacao and Bermuda, respectively, will be back in camp this weekend.

“We will be intensifying this weekend's camp with a holistic approach. earlier we were focusing a lot on fitness to kind of strengthen the players, but we are going to be doing a lot more tactical work as well.

“So we will be putting in the final touches with the local crop of girls before we depart for Trinidad, and then we can build on that when we get to Trinidad when we have all the full team on hand,” Gilbert ended.

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