Thu | Dec 7, 2023

Gordon: U-17 squad packed with quality players

Published:Tuesday | January 17, 2023 | 1:36 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
Merron Gordon
Merron Gordon

National under-17 coach Merron Gordon is optimistic that the young Reggae Boyz can claim a top four spot at the Concacaf qualifiers in Guatemala from February 11-26 and book a place to the 2023 Under-17 World Cup in Peru.

Gordon said the squad is packed with talented players, and although he believes they could do with a few friendly internationals before the tournament, they have to make do with the resources available to them at this time.

“We think we can really qualify with this team. It is a talented bunch of boys though we are lacking a bit of resources here and there. But we are Jamaicans and we are going to turn our hands and make fashion,” he told an online press conference.

“The demands of the Concacaf region are physical, mixed with technical ability. We have some big boys. The average height of the team is approximately five feet 10 inches and they are big boys who can play,” he said.

He pointed out that having the director of football Wendell Downswell, who has been around Jamaica youth teams that have qualified for international tournaments, as part of the coaching staff has been a huge boost.

“We are taking the blueprint of some of what he did and add things by tweaking it a bit. We are optimistic and working hard,”Gordon said.

The team began preparation in December with a pool of 50 players that has now been cut to 28.

They will continue in camp until their departure on February 8 but the final 20 is to be submitted by February 1.

Passport issues

However, a few overseas-based players are experiencing difficulties accessing their Jamaican passports and Gordon said they will remain on the provisional list as he believes they can add quality to the team.

“We have two players who require citizenship and we are waiting on them. (Zakariya) Lovelace from Rangers and (Kyrome) Lumsden (a United States youth representative) are players we haven’t seen as yet but because of the high level that they are playing at we think that they can help us.

“Lovelace’s father is still having a bit of a challenge with his passport but we still put him in the provisional list, in case it is sorted out before time.

“(Cameron) Eubank is also a player on the provisional list and we are waiting to see if he will pull through with his citizenship,” he said.

Meanwhile, former US under-15 midfielder Aaron Hurge successfully completed his documentation and arrived in the island yesterday.

Gordon’s only concern is that they have not played enough international practice matches but revealed they are trying to get a few games before their departure.

“We have been playing some games locally with college teams and we will be playing a few premier league teams also.

“We are hoping to get one or two international friendlies in this age group and we are putting something together now.

“Hopefully, we can bring one or two teams here to play us. But for right now it is just a local camp,” he added.

Jamaica has been placed in Group G with Costa Rica, Cuba and Guadeloupe

The top three nations from each of the four groups will advance to the round of 16, joining the four group winners from the 2022 Concacaf qualifiers. The knockout games will be played in a single match elimination format. The four semifinalists will qualify for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Peru in November.