U-17s depart with confidence of making impact at CONCACAF Championship
A 20-strong Guyana U17 boys national squad departed for Florida on Monday ahead of the nation’s debut at the CONCACAF U17 Championship, following a final encampment at Leonora Stadium.
The U17 squad, which beat Elite League side Den Amstel 2-1 in a friendly match at the GFF National Training Centre Saturday, is set to compete in Group C at the IMG Complex against El Salvador (10:00h, May 1), Honduras (16:00h May 3) and Haiti (10:00h, May 5).
“There is great chemistry and continuity in this current crop of players, building on the U15 group that was successful at the 2017 Soualiga Cup and talent from the GFF’s nationwide Academy Training Centres, where we have been developing our young players in line with the GFF’s national playing philosophy,” U17 Head Coach Sampson Gilbert said.
“We know we are going up against teams that have a reputation at this level, but we know that we can compete with those teams. We are looking forward to going as far as possible in the tournament: getting out of the group as the first target and then taking each game as it comes.”
The U17s are ranked 18th in CONCACAF and have been in training since early March with up to five sessions per week at the National Training Centre and practice matches against local club teams.
The CONCACAF tournament schedule clashes with some CSEC examination dates, meaning that participating Caribbean nations have had to tailor their preparations and squad selection around the availability of players. “Education has to go hand in hand with football,” Gilbert said.
“We are working with the parents to alleviate the situation so that as many of our children can benefit from playing at this level but also perform properly in their exams s part of this arrangement, some players in the U17 squad will return to Guyana after the second group match against Honduras while some others will be unavailable for selection due to exam commitments if Guyana progresses to the next round.
“We wish our boys all the very best as they prepare to represent their country at this level for the first time in our history,” said GFF President Wayne Forde.
“With this age group, we recognize that it is important for each of the players to learn as much as they can from this valuable regional exposure as we continue to develop them through the academies and within our national pathway.”
“We believe a significant number of these players have the attitude and ability to grow into top players in the region in the years ahead, and we are looking forward to seeing them make a big statement of intent against some tough opposition in Florida this month.”
The CONCACAF U17 Championship will be broadcast live in Guyana via Flow Sports.