STERN JOHN, coach of the TT men’s Under-17 football team, has called for the squad to be kept together as they progress to the Under-20 level.
John, the ex-national team striker, was speaking after the team’s exit from the Concacaf Under-17 Championship on Wednesday, following a 4-1 beating by Honduras in their Round of 16 encounter at the IMG Academy, Bradenton, Florida, United States.
Jeffry Miranda scored a hat-trick for Honduras, with items in the 46th, 76th and 88th minutes, while Jose Aguilera got the other strike, in the 61st. Jaiye Sheppard got TT’s lone goal, in the 57th.
“We didn’t find our rhythm (on Wednesday) and, in the end, Honduras pulled away from us,” said John. “I thought we weathered the storm in the first half and it was evenly matched. After they went ahead we got ourselves back in the game with the equaliser, but we didn’t get any time to really build on that because they grabbed the lead again a few minutes after.”
In the group stage, TT defeated both Bermuda (3-1) and Jamaica (3-2) but fell to a 5-0 defeat by Mexico.
“All in all, it was disappointing but I have to give my players credit for coming here and winning two out of four matches,” said John, the TT men’s team assistant coach. “We managed to qualify for the second round. The last two games were big learning experiences against top Concacaf teams and generally we showed what we are capable of.
“We came here and beat Jamaica in a competition, something that we haven’t done in sometime, at any level and that was a good sign for us,” John continued. “That was fantastic in terms of bragging rights but for me, I think we have to start looking beyond teams like Jamaica.
“I think now we have to build on this. Hopefully we’ll find a way to keep the boys together and have them working for the next set of qualifiers which will be at the under 20 level and hopefully some of the boys from here will continue to develop and move on to teams at a higher level outside of Trinidad and Tobago and also back home,” John added.
In other round of 16 matches on Wednesday, El Salvador and Mexico each registered 2-1 victories over Jamaica and Puerto Rico respectively, while Haiti whipped Dominican Republic 2-0.
Yesterday, Panama eliminated Guatemala 2-0 and Canada spanked Curacao 4-0.
The quarter-finals will be contested on Sunday, with the semi-finals on Tuesday and the final set for May 16.
The semi-finalists will advance to the 2019 FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Brazil.