The Trinidad and Tobago National Under-17 Team will concede their traditional home ground this weekend, after the Russell Latapy-led technical staff suggested that playing in Couva would be more advantageous to their India 2017 Under-17 World Cup qualifying chances.
The junior Soca Warriors open their World Cup bid against 2014 Caribbean Football Union (CFU) champions, Haiti, from 7:30pm on Friday 16 September at the Ato Boldon Stadium. It is the second match of a double header as Jamaica and Bermuda square off from 5pm at the same venue.
However, bizarrely, Suriname, Guadeloupe, Cuba and Curacao will be based at the Hasely Crawford for Group B, which kicks off at 4pm on 17 September with Suriname tackling Guadeloupe.
Team manager Alexandrine Elliott-Procope explained why the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) opted to swap Port of Spain for Couva.
“[The technical staff] feels that the Couva venue will be an advantage,” Elliott-Procope told Wired868. “One, it’s a smaller venue and they are accustomed to the venue [after doing most of their preparation at the Ato Boldon Stadium].”
The Hasely Crawford Stadium seats 23,000 patrons while the Ato Boldon Stadium holds just 10,000. However, Elliott-Procope suggested that the latter was more likely to get a bigger turnout and could provide a better atmosphere.
“In terms of the viewing public, we expect that the attendance at the games would be better [at Couva] than at the Hasely Crawford Stadium,” said Elliott-Procope. “When you have 4,000 persons watching you at the Hasely Crawford Stadium compared to 4,000 at the Ato Boldon Stadium, it’s a different kind of feeling.”
The National Under-17 coach, Latapy, declined the chance to discuss the upcoming tournament on the grounds that he did an interview with Wired868 last week. His assistant, Reynold Carrington, also did not speak to the media.
Sixteen year old Warriors attacker Isaiah Hudson, who scored three times from as many games with the Under-20s in June, said he and his teammates were raring to go.
“I am involved with a lot of teams at the moment and a lot of football is taking place but I am taking in it in stride and enjoying every moment,” Hudson told the TTFA Media. “For the tournament with the Under-17s, I am very anxious because it is another chance for me to do well in this age group…
“It will be important for us to start well on Friday against Haiti. The players will be giving their all and trying their best to do what the coaches want of us.
“And a good win will give us that level of confidence we will need for the remainder of the tournament.”
Striker Nion Lammy and Canada-born midfielder Luke Singh were also confident that the team will do well.
“The fans can expect a fast pace game and we will be coming out there to give it our best,” said Singh. “I think Haiti will also come strongly because every team wants to win on the day. But I think we are prepared for it.”
Lammy, who scored in the Under-17s’ win over the Under-20s, has also set himself an individual target.
“I want to finish as the leading scorer,” said Lammy, who is also a Presentation College (San Fernando) student. “My aim is to make the starting team or at least come off the bench and get among the goals…
“Once we work hard and stay focused then I think we have a great chance of coming away victorious in all of our matches.”
Latapy’s 22-man squad were passed medically fit after undergoing a series of tests at the HealthNet Clinic in San Fernando last week. HealthNet is currently engaged in a four-year partnership with the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) to oversee all of its national teams.
The National Under-17 Team defeated their Under-20 counterparts 2-1 in a friendly exercise on Monday. They will hope for similar success against their regional guests.
(Trinidad and Tobago National Under-17 Team)
Goalkeepers: Emmanuel John (San Juan Jabloteh/Trinity East), Elijah Shade (San Juan Jabloteh/St Anthony’s);
Defenders: Jessie Williams (St Ann’s Rangers/East Mucurapo), Tyrique Andrews (W Connection/Naparima), Jerren Jackie (Point Fortin Civic/Presentation San F’do), Kerdell Sween, Brandon Semper (both San Juan Jabloteh/San Juan North);
Midfielders: John-Paul Rochford (FC Santa Rosa/QRC), Jodel Brown (San Juan Jabloteh/St Anthony’s College), Keon Boney (North East Stars/North Eastern), Luke Singh (Vaughn Azzuri—Canada/St Edmund Campion), Omar Da Naia (Vaughn Azzuri—Canada/Bill Brothers Secondary), Nikel Orr (San Juan Jabloteh/Trinity East), Che Benny (St Ann’s Rangers/St Anthony’s), Mark Ramdeen, Isaiah Hudson, Andre Raymond (W Connection/Naparima);
Forwards: Jaydon Prowell (Central FC/St Anthony’s), Nion Lammy (Point Fortin Civic/Presentation San F’do), Jonathan Godette (DC United—USA/Maryland), Kishon Hackshaw (North East Stars/Trinity East), Tyrese Bailey (San Juan Jabloteh/St Anthony’s).
CFU Under-17 Schedule
Group A [All matches at Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva]
Bermuda vs Jamaica, 5pm;
T&T vs Haiti, 7:30pm;
Jamaica vs Haiti, 4pm;
T&T vs Bermuda, 6:30pm;
Haiti vs Bermuda, 5pm;
T&T vs Jamaica, 7:30pm;
Group B [All matches at Hasely Crawford Stadium]
Suriname vs Guadeloupe, 4pm;
Cuba vs Curacao, 6:30pm;
Guadeloupe vs Cuba, 5pm;
Suriname vs Curacao, 7:30pm;
Curacao vs Guadeloupe, 5pm;
Cuba vs Suriname, 7:30pm.
Knock Out Round [All matches at Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva]
Group A Winner vs Group B Runner Up, 5pm;
Group B Winner vs Group A Runner Up, 7:30pm;
Third place – Semi Finals losers, 4pm;
Final – Winners of Semi-Final matches, 6:30pm.