Haynes, Wall expect Under-20 players to improve on first warm-up game performance

By January 30, 2024
Brian Haynes (left) and John Wall Brian Haynes (left) and John Wall (Photos: TTFA)

While pleased with aspects of their team’s display in the first warm-up contest, Trinidad and Tobago’s Under-20 Men’s Head coach Brian Haynes and his Jamaican counterpart John Wall are optimistic of a more efficient display from their respective units when the two teams meet again on Thursday.

The young Soca Warriors edged the young Reggae Boyz 3-2 in the first contest at the University of TT, O'Meara Campus recently, with Lindell Sween, Levi Jones and Michael Chaves on target for the hosts, while Jahmani Bell and Demarion Harris, pulled things back for Jamaica.

That contest, both coaches believe, not only provided the impetus needed to finalize selection of their respective squads for next month’s Caribbean phase of the Concacaf Under-20 Men’s Championships, as they only had a few training sessions prior, which doesn’t necessarily assist in highlighting the true competitive nature and, by extension, cohesiveness of the teams.

Haynes expressed satisfaction with the progress of his players, especially as he explored different combinations.

"As far as I am concerned the exercise was good. Nobody's hurt, thank God. The guys worked hard and the main group, the group that started, they did what we wanted them to do, and I thought the guys that came in did a good job as well,” Haynes said.

"I commend the Jamaica team for coming down and giving us a good game, because this is what we need and this is what they need and hopefully this propels us to keep playing at the level I know we can,” he added.

Still, no performance is ever perfect, and as such, Haynes said the objective remains to strengthen their flaws in all areas to ensure that the young Soca Warriors not only prove more formidable in the next game, but also against their more illustrious opponents in future fixtures.

Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica will lock horns in the second warm-up encounter on Thursday at Larry Gomes Stadium at 4:00 pm.

For the upcoming tournament, Haynes’s side will host Group D which includes Canada, Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines with only the group winner set to progress.

"There are things we have to work on, but right now I am really happy with the result for the boys,” Haynes noted.

Wall echoed similar sentiments, even as the young Reggae Boyz held Police FC’s youth team to a goalless stalemate in another encounter.

"The whole idea of these games is to create relationships and a common understanding on our game model. So, there are instances where we are kind of pleased with what we saw and for me it’s the bigger picture of getting ourselves ready and competitive for the tournament,” Wall shared.

"One of the core non-negotiables that we have is that no matter what, we don’t give up because we are playing for our nation which is a big responsibility.  So, there are areas we need to improve on with regards to our pressing, counter-pressing and some other technical things in that region,” he reasoned.

Wall’s side will contest Group F with Bermuda, Grenada and Martinique in St Kitts and Nevis in the upcoming tournament.

After round-robin play in the Concacaf qualifying opening round between February 23 and March 2, the group winners will progress to the Championship round to join the six pre-seeded nations – United States, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic –ranked in that order.

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

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