Home Sports Guyana set to make CONCACAF U-17 debut on Wednesday
For the first time ever, a young and promising Guyanese team will don the Golden Jaguars’ colours as they represent Guyana at the CONCACAF U-17 Championships.
The 20-strong national U-17 squad departed for Florida on Monday after their final encampment session at the Leonora Stadium.
This team defeated Elite League side Den Amstel 2-1 in a friendly match at the GFF National Training Centre on Saturday, and are set to compete in ‘Group C’ at the IMG Complex against El Salvador (10am, May 1st), Honduras (4pm, May 3rd) and Haiti (10am, May 5th).
“There is great chemistry and continuity in this current crop of players, building on the U-15 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,” U-17 Head Coach Sampson Gilbert detailed.
“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,” Gilbert explained.
The U-17s 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. There have also been 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.”
As part of this arrangement, some players in the U-17 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,” GFF President Wayne Forde said. “With this age group, we recognise 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 U-17 Championship matches will be broadcast live in Guyana via Flow Sports.