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A decisive moment for our youths

Saturday, April 13, 2013

It is exciting to know that another one of our national football teams has reached a point in an international competition where they can qualify for the Fifa Under-17 World Cup finals in Dubai next November.


For the past week, Panama has been buzzing with excitement among the teams that are vying for the qualifying places. Now the final eight teams are identified and T&T will face the host country in the quarterfinal today.


I suppose that we can make judgment on the history of the various countries’ previous results, and be led into making positive claims for Mexico, Honduras, USA and Canada, as the ones likely to represent Concacaf in the World Cup finals.


At the age-group level, this prediction can be viewed as a myth, simply because T&T, Jamaica and Canada have all found themselves in Fifa World Cup age-group finals in the past.


With the majority of these teams void of the necessary experience to totally upstage any of the others, it all boils down to what mindset exists in the young players.


However, after seeing the exquisite finesse of Mexico and the energy mixed with skill of Honduras, the battle for places in UAE will be tense.


The USA will be faced with the most serious challenge of the tournament when they oppose Honduras for a semifinal spot.


While these stalwarts fight each other, the other side of the draw tends to offer some opportunities for the English-speaking countries T&T and Jamaica.


Panama, which will be up against the T&T Warriors, may wish to assume that they will hold home advantage, despite the fact that they were held to a 2-2 draw against Jamaica and scored twice to send Barbados home early.


Canada’s win over T&T was convincing, if one looked solely at the final scoreline, but they did not have possession dominance, neither did they have more scoring chances. Nevertheless, some relatively soft goals brought their eventual result. Jamaica tried to intensify their already aggressive game and may have defeated Panama if they had not lost their cool and were handed six yellow and two red cards. 


They still managed a drawn game and will enter the quarter-final without a victory.


T&T, on the other hand, enjoyed the benefit of a missed penalty by Costa Rica and were able to show some fluidity in midfield to dominate centre field.


While Andre Fortune’s left-footed drive from 23 metres was the final act, following some clever dribbling past complacent Costa Rica midfielders.


A key substitution saw Akim Andrews replace Seecharan and immediately his extra speed and dribbling skill forced the Costa Rica captain, Miranda, to foul him just marginally out of the penalty area.


Brent Sam produced a left-footed inswinger which curled and dipped rapidly into the left-hand corner of the net, despite the keeper Jara getting a touch.


Now that they have brought themselves to the point of handling Panama, the task seems challenging, but certainly not out of their depth.


Some stern instructions need to be given to Seecharan to curb the desire to be individualistic as opposed to using the famous “give and go” passing sequence. While I admit that his ability to fight for the ball in defense should not go unnoticed, the same attention should be given to a more unselfish approach used by him in the first two matches.


It would have been nice to have Matthew Woo Ling on the left flank and allow the two Garcias, Levi and Akeem, to be twin strikers at some time during the match, especially in the second half when Fortune seemed to run out of steam after about 70 minutes.


That substitution would certainly add to the penetrative process and can give T&T the edge in this key fixture.


The endline must be full commitment and 100 per cent effort from all. Already the defense has been solid physically, but the central defenders must tighten their position play to avoid vulnerable passing lanes for the oppoinents.


T&T needs to give our country to move another step into recognition at the international level and the ball remains realistically in the hands of a bunch of young men who have shown that discipline and hard work can sometimes make the ordinary turn into the exquisite. Putting their display into the hands of the Lord will just be the icing on the cake. Go for it, T&T.


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