Caribbean representative Haiti had a positive start in their hunt to secure qualification to this year's FIFA Under-17 Women's World Cup, as they opened the Concacaf Women’s Under-17 Championship with a 2-1 win over Costa Rica in Group A action in Toluca, Mexico, on Thursday.

Lourdjina Etienne scored both goals for the Haitians in the 45th and 60th minutes, while Daniela Ocampo (89th) pulled one back for Cost Rica.

This was the second meeting between the two nations at this stage of the tournament, the first coming back in 2010 when Costa Rica blanked their Haitian counterparts 2-0. However, Haiti, were in their element and returned the favour on this occasion.

They broke the deadlock in the waning moments of the first half on an excellent team goal in transition, as Pierreline Nazon found Desert Dominique, who then slotted a pass over to Etienne, who applied the perfect finish to put Haiti 1-0 up at the break.

Etienne got her second on the hour mark with a well-struck effort from just outside the 18-yard area that gave the keeper no chance at a save.

Costa Rica desperately sought a response and almost got one in the 75th, but Alondra Gonzalez’s shot was deflected wide.

The Las Ticas eventually pulled one back courtesy of Ocampo's firmly struck right-footer from a distance. But too little too late was the cry, as Haiti held firm defensively to pocket the three points.

With the win, Haiti sits second behind hosts Mexico on goal difference, after the latter blanked El Salvador 3-0 in their encounter.

Abril Fragoso (7th and 61st) and Dana Sandoval (57th) got the job done for the El Tricolor.

Mexico hit the ground running and opened the scoring in the seventh minute through Fragoso's sensational left-footed strike.

El Salvador had their moments in an attempt to pull level, but instead, the Mexicans doubled their lead when Sandoval fired home from just outside the area.

Fragoso then completed her brace a minute past the hour mark via from the penalty spot.

Meanwhile, United States and Canada are scheduled to face Panama and Puerto Rico in Group B action on Friday.

After Group Stage round-robin play, between February 1-6, the two group winners and runners-up will advance to the Knockout Stage. The Knockout Stage will begin with the Semi-finals on February 9, followed by the third-place match and final on Sunday, February 11.

The two finalists and third-placed team will join host Dominican Republic as Concacaf's representatives at the 16-team Under-17 Women's World Cup later this year. This will be the first time Dominican Republic hosts a FIFA World Cup, and their first participation at this age level.

The Dominican Republic took a step forward in its efforts to finish atop Group C in League B of the Concacaf Women's Gold Cup qualifiers, with a 7-1 victory over Barbados at the Wildey Astro Turf Stadium in Bridgetown on Friday.

With the win, Dominican Republic moved up to 12 points, one behind leaders Bermuda, who were awarded a 3-0 win over St Vincent and the Grenadines by the disciplinary committee. The top two are scheduled to meet on Tuesday's final matchday to decide group honours.

On Friday, Mia Asenjo opened the scoring in the 21st minute when she connected with a pass over the top to beat Barbados goalkeeper Rhea Holder.

Acacia Small pilled Barbados level in the 32nd after she dispossessed a defender and later finished a lobbed attempt from outside the 18-yard box.

However, their celebrations were short-lived, as Dominican Republic regained the advantage in a minute later through Asenjo, who connected with another ball over the top and expertly headed past Holder.

Lucia Marte added a third for the visitors in the 48th with a strike at the left post from a Kathrynn Gonzalez cross.

Alyssa Oviedo notched a fourth for Dominican Republic in the 68th with a right-footed shot inside the box.

Gonzalez then got on the board in the 77th on a free kick hit with enough force that gave Holder no chance at a save.

Winibian Peralta extended the gap in the 82nd when she applied the finishing touch to a tidy build-up orchestrated by Jazmin Jackson.

Marte completed her brace in the 87th with a curling free kick to add the exclamation point and keep the Dominican Republic in the race for first place.

Dorny Romero scored a hat-trick to lift Dominican Republic to a third victory in Group B of League B as the 2023–24 Concacaf Nations League continued on Monday.

Despite the win, Dominican Republic remains second in the group behind Nicaragua, who were also victorious in their fixture against Montserrat.

French Guiana overtook the top spot in Group C with a victory against St Vincent and the Grenadines.

French Guiana vs. St Vincent and the Grenadines 

French Guiana won 3-2 against St Vincent and the Grenadines at the Pierre-Aliker Stadium in Fort-de-France, Martinique.

Thomas Nemouthe opened the scoring in the 9th with a right-footed shot from the penalty spot. The hosts were awarded a penalty kick following a tackle on forward Arnold Abelinti.

Cornelius Stewart equalized in the 16th after an intercepted ball made for a breakaway opportunity. Oalex Anderson provided the assist across the box for Stewart to tie the game.

Franz Gaubert retook the lead for the home side in the 44th off a free kick opportunity.

Gaubert gave up a penalty after a tackle on Anderson to start the second half. Anderson took the spot kick but was denied by Marvin Golitin.

Stewart tied it again for the visitors in the 73rd as St Vincent and the Grenadines were in transition.

Jules Haabo delivered the game-winning goal in the 76th on a takeaway in midfield that he then drove into the penalty area for a diagonal strike to the bottom left corner of goal.

Dominican Republic vs. Barbados

The Dominican Republic took a 5-2 victory over Barbados on home soil at the Cibao Stadium in Santiago de los Caballeros.

Thierry Gale found the back of the net in the 10th to put Barbados up from the penalty spot. The spot kick was conceded on the previous play as goalkeeper Xavier Valdez was attempting to secure the ball but tripped Codrington Shane.

Riki Alba equalized for the home side in the 17th off an individual play from the right side of goal as he battled through three defenders and the goalkeeper.

Romero continued his goalscoring form with a header in the 30th as the Dominican Republic took the lead for the first time on the night with a corner kick.

Romero secured his second goal of the night in the 48th with another header inside the penalty area. Angel Melo provided the cross from the right flank for Romero’s double.

Heinz Morschel extended the lead in the 59th with a right-footed strike inside the box.

Gale took one back for the visitors in the 66th to complete his brace. The opportunity came from a second conceded penalty kick by the Dominican Republic.

Romero struck with a third header in the 79th, this time from a corner kick. It marks six goals in the tournament for Romero and puts him in the lead in the Golden Boot race.

Nicaragua vs. Montserrat

Nicaragua defeated Montserrat 3-0 at the National Football Stadium in Managua, Nicaragua to remain atop Group B with 12 points.

Montserrat’s Lucas Kirnon came up with a header in the fourth to impede an early goal from the home side. 

James Comley was ambitious from long range in the 28th in what was the best opportunity in the first half for the visiting team.

Juan Luis Perez broke through with the opening goal in the 38th on a free-kick opportunity. Defender Abraham Jeriel Dorsett tried to clear, but Perez got the header on the rebound.

Luis Coronel extended the lead in the 43rd with a hit from around the penalty marker. Bancy Hernandez supplied the assist inside the box to find his open teammate.

Matias Moldskred came on for the second half and immediately paid dividends with a third Nicaragua goal in the 48th. Goalkeeper Corrin Brooks tried to push the ball away from goal in the pouring rain to no avail.

From there, the Nicaraguan defense did the rest to nail down the clean sheet victory.

Trinidad and Tobago’s young sensation Nikoli Blackman continues to show marked improvements as he copped the 50 metres freestyle title in breathtaking fashion at the World Junior Swimming championships Wingate Institute in Netanya, Israel on Thursday.

Blackman, who earlier clocked a brisk personal best 22.33 seconds in the semi-finals, later underlined his class as one of the world's top young freestylers, as he won the final in 22.35s. He bettered a quality field with Australia’s Flynn Southam (22.43s) and Lorenzo Ballarati (22.47s) of Italy, taking silver and bronze respectively.

The home country was denied its first medal of the championships, as homeboy, Mikhail Povaliaev was fourth in 22.66s, while Javier Nunez of the Dominican Republic, still just a high school junior, was sixth in 22.73s.

Blackman’s performance follows the three gold medals won at last month’s Commonwealth Youth Games in Trinidad and Tobago and surpassed those from last year’s edition of the World Junior Championships.

At World Juniors last September, Blackman was a finalist in the 50m freestyle and a semi-finalist in the 100m freestyle. He finished sixth in prelims of the 50m with 22.97s, then went 22.83s in both the semis and the final.

The University of Tennessee swimmer, who missed out on a medal in the 200m freestyle when he finished fifth in the heat in 1:50.36, is scheduled to contest the 100m freestyle on Friday


Despite a failed bid at an historic FIFA Women’s Under-20 World Cup qualification, Hugh Bradford is optimistic about staying on with the national programme, as he believes he has more to offer to Jamaica’s football development.

However, at the same time, the American-based coach is also hopeful that things will be done differently to better nurture, and, by extension, prepare the country’s young talents to perform in a competitive environment.

Bradford’s comments came, as he continues to assess the young Reggae Girlz performances in consecutive 0-4 losses to regional powerhouses Canada and United States, at the Concacaf Women’s Under-20 Championship in Dominican Republic.

The Girlz are scheduled to close out their Group A campaign against Panama at Felix Sanchez Stadium in Santo Domingo on Tuesday at 2:00 pm.

“I hope to continue with the programme, but that will be up to the Jamaica Football Federation to decide. I also hope to see our country put things in place for our youngest players that will help to get them ready for this stage, both in Jamaica and abroad,” Bradford said.

“There is no doubt that we have a lot of talent. However, as a country, for us to play against the best, we have to constantly make changes to how we treat our football development to keep up with the world, but more so in Concacaf,” he added.

While disappointed that his young Reggae Girlz failed to keep the United States at bay on Sunday, Bradford lauded his team for putting in a much-improved performance, from a defensive perspective in particular, when compared to their opening defeat against Canada.

As such, the tactician is eyeing a similar of even better all-round execution against fellow strugglers Panama, as both teams, who are without a point or a goal, seek to salvage some pride from their failed campaigns.

“I am hoping the team will play another good game as they did against USA, we didn’t get on the scoresheet as we would have liked, but again, it all comes down to focus and how we prepare ourselves to take on the best,” the tactician noted.

 “As a team you have to be at your best for 90+ minutes, so their fitness level matters and that is an all-year thing. But I think the ladies should be able to put in a better showing against Panama and so we look forward to what should be another good game,” said Bradford.

Both United States, the reigning seven-time champions, and Canada, on six points each, will lock horns in the Group A top-of-the-table clash, at 5:00 pm.

The winner will take on Group B runners-up Costa Rica, while the loser will have to contend with Mexico in Friday’s semi-finals.

The two finalists and third-place team will qualify for next year’s Under-20 World Cup.

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