Trinidad and Tobago's Under-20 men's football coach Brian Haynes is close to selecting his final squad for the 2024 Concacaf Under-20 Championship qualifiers.
TT will host Group D of the qualifiers from February 23–March 2. TT will play Canada, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica at Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo. The winner of the group will advance to the 2024 Concacaf Men’s Under-20 Championships.
On Thursday, the TT Under-20s lost a practice match to the men's senior team 2-1 at Larry Gomes Stadium in Malabar, Arima.
In a TT Football Association release, Haynes said, "With the staff, we have already narrowed down what we are looking at and what we are looking for, and the gaps we are able to fill and the gaps we are able to strengthen...It is starting to come together now and it feels more like a team. It's not 40 players any more, now we just have 25 in the camp and it is awesome."
Haynes said the practice match was beneficial. "Very, very good for me. I am so thankful for (Soca Warriors coach) Angus (Eve) for doing this because it does nothing but to help the young players. To play against experienced players, to play against composed players, to play against players who know how to play the game properly – it's always good to get those type of games."
Getting the opportunity to play against senior players taught his players what is required to be competitive, said Haynes. "It might be a humbling experience, but at the same time it is a very good experience going into what we have ahead of us...I don't care who we play against, we probably won't get (to play against) players who are that skilful and that experienced, but we can learn from it and understand how much more we have to work to get to that level."
Giving more details about the match, Haynes said. "It showed our defensive frailties, it showed when teams who are good on the ball, teams who know how to use space and teams that know how to switch the point of attack at will, it shows that we need to get more prepared for it.
"We have to work on being much more effective on offence. I think we do a good job getting the ball from the back to the midfield and to the top of the 18-yard (box), but the final product has to become better ."