Kieron hails “pivotal” Jamaica tour; Cooper announces T&T U-17 touring squad

Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president Kieron Edwards described the Men’s National Under-17 team’s tour to Jamaica this week as “pivotal” to their 2025 Fifa Under-17 World Cup aspirations and an opportunity to strengthen relationships with a regional association.

The National Under-17s, led by head coach Shawn Cooper, were initially due for a seven-day camp in Florida—during which time they were due to play against the renowned Montverde International Academy, Orlando City FC and a makeshift team of American boys who have the potential to represent Trinidad and Tobago.

Trinidad and Tobago forward Jonathan Mason (right) skips away from Puerto Rico defender Xzavier Colon during Concacaf U-15 Championship action in Santo Domingo on 8 August 2023.
Mason, a Fatima College schoolboy, is part of the current National Under-17 setup.
(via TTFA Media)

The Florida trip was arranged by technical director Anton Corneal. However, the Edwards-led executive, voted into office on 13 April, was not suitably impressed.

Edwards is poised to be installed as the TTFA’s new technical committee chairman, which gives him direct oversight over Corneal and his technical department.

One US-based Trinbagonian coach, who spoke on condition of anonymity, lamented to Wired868 that the late cancellation left the Trinidad and Tobago expats involved with various elements of the tour with egg on their faces.

He noted that there was always a chance of embarrassment for US-based professionals whenever they tried to help the TTFA, which has a poor record over the years for keeping its word.

However, Edwards, in a press release, suggested that the young Soca Warriors are better off playing against international competition, while he said there would also be benefits for the local football body.

New TTFA president Kieron Edwards (left) poses with outgoing Fifa-appointed normalisation committee chairman Robert Hadad after elections at the Home of Football on 13 April 2024.
Photo: TTFA

“In keeping with the Executive’s mantra to strengthen partnerships and our relationship with our brothers in CFU, we are pleased to be embarking on this journey to Jamaica,” Edwards told the TTFA Media. “Despite the challenges, the commitment to the continued development of our high-performance program shines through. This trip marks a pivotal step towards our U-17 team’s quest to qualify for the Fifa Under-17 World Cup in 2025.

“It’s a testament to the dedication of all involved, securing this opportunity mere days after the new executive’s installation.”

In fact, exhibition football matches against Jamaica have been a regular occurrence in recent times. The two nations played each other 10 times in the last 15 months, during the tenure of the Fifa-appointed normalisation committee: four senior friendlies (two in Jamaica, two in Trinidad), two under-20 friendlies (two in Trinidad), two under-17 friendlies (both in Jamaica) and two under-15 friendlies (both in Trinidad).

Trinidad and Tobago National Under-15 captain and playmaker Seth Hadeed (left) tries to drive a pass beyond Jamaica defender Jaquan Brown during international friendly action at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium on 25 July 2023.
Photo: Daniel Prentice/ Wired868

Trinidad and Tobago will now face Jamaica’s under-17 team on Friday 3 May and Sunday 5 May before the young Warriors tackle an unspecified club team on Tuesday 7 May.

Coach Cooper said the value of the Jamaica trip lies in expanding his pool of players, with 13 new faces from his Boys’ National Under-15 Team that performed creditably at the 2023 Concacaf Under-15 Championship.

“In our attempt to expand the pool of U-17 men’s players with international experience we have decided to select 13 new players to a 21-man squad traveling to Jamaica,” Cooper told the TTFA Media. “Out of the eight players returning to the squad which represented T&T in the U-15 Concacaf tournament last year, only three of them were starters.

“So at the end of this tour to Jamaica, at least 33 players would have gotten international experience of some sort—which would put us in a better place in terms of selection of players and the boys’ continued development on and off the field.”

Arima North Secondary midfielder Criston Gomez drives the ball to a teammate during the East Zone Intercol final against San Juan North Secondary at the Larry Gomes Stadium on 21 November 2023.
Gomez was voted the Man of the Match as Arima prevailed on penalties.
Photo: Daniel Prentice/ Wired868

For a variety of reasons, Cooper will head to Jamaica without the talented quartet of Fatima College playmaker Caden Trestrail, St Benedict’s College defender Adam Pierre and the versatile Arima North Secondary duo of Stephen Ollivierie and Criston “CJ” Gomez, who can both play in midfield and defence.

However, midfielders Seth Hadeed (Fatima) and Jasai Theophilus (Queen’s Royal College) are involved—after missing the 2023 Concacaf Under-15 Championship due to injury and to attend a training camp respectively.

And the Naparima College trio of defenders Antonio Hills and Jaydon Caprietta and attacker Adasa Richardson are among the new faces who forced their way into contention.

Naparima College attacker Adasa Richardson (left) takes on Arima North Secondary midfielder Sherlon Nesbitt during the Trinidad Under-14 final in Arima on 27 November 2023.
Richardson always qualify to represent the Trinidad and Tobago Under-15 team.
Photo: Daniel Prentice/ Wired868

Naparima were Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) Under-14 champions in 2023.

The full Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Under-17 squad for the Jamaica tour is as follows:

Goalkeepers: Mikhail Clement (Naparima College), Necose Moore (Chaguanas North Secondary);

Defenders: Jimally Renne (Presentation College, San Fernando), Jaydon Caprietta, Jeremiah Daniel, Antonio Hills (all Naparima College), Dimitre Jones, Keston Richards (both Arima North Secondary), Salim Soanes (St Benedict’s College);

Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Nikosi Foncette (right) passes for a teammate during Concacaf U-15 Championship action against Honduras in the Dominican Republic on 6 August 2023.
Photo: TTFA Media

Midfielders: Antuan Louison, Seth Hadeed (both Fatima College), Alejandro Harper, Eran Mc Leod (both St Mary’s College), Nikosi Foncette, Kyron Baptiste (both Presentation College, San Fernando), Jasai Theophilus, Jayden Christophe (both Queen’s Royal College), Riquelme Phillips (Speyside High), Adasa Richardson (Naparima College);

Forwards: Jonathan Mason (Fatima College), Josiah Simmons (Presentation College, San Fernando).

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