Jamaica's Wall, T&T's Haynes pleased with progress as Concacaf U-20 Championship draws closer

By Sports Desk February 14, 2024
Trindad and Tobago's Head coach Brian Haynes (left) and Jamaican counterpart John Wall. Trindad and Tobago's Head coach Brian Haynes (left) and Jamaican counterpart John Wall.

There was nothing at stake for either Trinidad and Tobago or Jamaica in their recent warm-up fixtures, but good results were still crucial to set a solid foundation on which they can build heading into their respective Concacaf Under-20 Men’s Championship assignments.

While there was no clear winner at the end of the two-match tie, as Trinidad and Tobago won the first 3-2 and Jamaica won the second 3-1, John Wall and Brian Haynes took heart from their team’s display across both games, though both highlighted the need for more improvements to achieve consistency.

Wall, Head coach of the young Reggae Boyz, heavily rotated players during the camp, as he also had the distinction of securing a goalless stalemate with one of Trinidad and Tobago’s senior club outfit.

“Three games, three different outcomes, but mainly it (the camp) was just to build a solid foundation in our style of play, how the environment is, what we value and what it takes to play in the national setting. So, it gave me a lot of answers as to where the players are at present, and what needs to be assessed as we move forward towards St Kitts, so hopefully the process can continue ahead of the tournament,” Wall said.

The Swedish tactician is expected to name a final squad this weekend, for their upcoming Concacaf Championship Group F assignment, which his young Reggae Boyz will open against Martinique next Saturday, followed by a clash with Grenada on February 26, before closing against Bermuda two days later, in St Kitts and Nevis.

“Martinique had four of their U-20 players in a game against Lille which they lost 12-0; Grenada has five English-based players that is going to be a part of their squad and we basically have them covered, and Bermuda are more of a dark horse. But for me it’s about controlling the controllable at this point in terms of what we can do,” Wall declared.

“My hope and aspiration (for the tournament) lie in the work that we put down and not the talent that we assess, so we have to do the work consistently because ultimately what I care about is making sure that Jamaica prevails,” he added.

Meanwhile, Haynes and his young Soca Warriors, also had a third warm-up contest which they lost 1-2 to Angus Eve’s senior team.  Though pleased with the cohesiveness within the camp, he underscored the importance of consistency heading into the tournament.

“We need to have some consistency. 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,” Haynes reasoned.

“All we have to do is keep working hard no matter what happens. We concentrated for the most part...I am thankful it is happening now and not in the tournament. While we didn’t win the game, the experience they got here is something you cannot get in practice,” he added.

Trinidad and Tobago will host Group D where they will open against St Vincent and the Grenadines next Friday, before tackling Dominica on February 25, and Canada on February 27.

With a number of overseas-based players are expected to try out for Haynes’ squad, he declared that they would only be considered, if they make the team better.

“This group here has made me proud, and I am saying I love it. We have good players coming from overseas, but we have good soccer players here in Trinidad, and if the guys that are coming in are not challenging these guys, this is what I am going with,” Haynes declared.

Only the group winners will progress to the next phase of the Concacaf Under-20 tournament to join the top teams –United States, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic –ranked in that order.

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