Safe U-20s look to end CFU play-offs with a flourish
Jamaica and fellow qualifiers to the CONCACAF round Cuba will meet for Group B honours in the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Under-20 World Cup qualifier at Stadium East this evening at 7:00 pm.
Host Jamaica and the Cubans have both taken maximum points from their two games against Suriname and Antigua and Barbuda and have secured their place in the CONCACAF final round, set for Mexico in February.
However, the young Reggae Boyz have failed to impress in their two outings and will want to close the tournament on a high.
Coach Luciano Gama said now that the first objective of advancing to the confederation stage the players should be more relaxed in this evening's encounter.
"Our first target was to ensure qualification, and now that we are sure we have qualified, we are going to play against Cuba a little bit more relax," said the Brazilian.
Gama noted that the Cubans appear to be the most balanced of the teams in the group.
"It will be a difficult game... because sometimes you create a lot of chances and you don't put the ball inside the goal. But if we pass the ball well and create a lot of chances, everything will be a little more easy," he said.
In their last game, the Jamaicans beat Suriname 3-0 on goals from Sean McFarlane (45th minute), Zhelano Barnes (66th) and Kereem Manning (90th+).
Jamaica lead the group ahead of Cuba on goal difference after netting four for with none against, while Cuba have scored four with one conceded.
Meanwhile, the Cubans have looked a solid efficient unit in both their matches, but the Young Boyz aim to finish with a flourish.
"We are happy with the work we are doing now and I want to say congrats to the boys, because they have put in a lot of hard work and so to finish on a win is so important," he said.
The Raul Triana-coached Cuba are also aiming to end the tournament on a high and will look to players like Hector Sanchez, Dairon Perez, Andy Ruiz, captain Atura Diz Pe and Maykel Azcuy to lead them to a win and bragging rights over Jamaica.
In Group A, Haiti moved to the brink of qualifying for the CONCACAF finals for the first time since 2007, after beating Trinidad and Tobago 2-0 on Wednesday night at the Drewsland mini-stadium in Kingston.
Entering their final game yesterday, Haiti (six points from two games) needed only a draw with Puerto Rico. Trinidad were due to play Curacao.
Trinidad were in second-place on three points with Puerto Rico, who beat Curacao 2-1, in the curtain-raiser of Wednesday's double-header.
The top two teams in both groups along with the best third-place team will advance to the CONCACAF Championship in February.
Jamaica last qualified for a men's Under-20 World Cup in the Argentina edition back in 2001.
The FIFA Under-20 Youth World Cup will be held in Turkey from June 21 to July 13, next year.