Basseterre, St. Kitts – Host nation, St. Kitts & Nevis has announced the final team that will represent the country in this week’s CFU Under 23 Olympic Qualifiers to determine the last two spots for the CONCACAF Finals that are scheduled for the United States, in early 2012.
The team was made known following Monday night’s (21st November), practice session at the Silver Jubilee Stadium in Bird Rock.
According to the coach, Jeffrey Hazel, the squad has been in practice for the past two months, but on Monday night it was cut to twenty (20).
Leading the newly selected team is Kareem Mitchum, as captain, with Javein Blanchette and Devaughn Elliott as vice captains.
The other members of the team are Julani Archibald, Jamal Francis, Irandy Byron, Zachary Geitz, Josh Leader, Tishan Hanley, Romaine Sawyers, Kevin Benjamin, Ejhayson Henry, Kendale Liburd, Nile Walwyn, Kadeem Lewis, Akil Grier, Lawrence Jeffers, Travis Sommersall, Aaron Mentos and Terrence Warde. The team manager is Keithley Pemberton.
In a message tailored for those who did not make it, the coach encouraged them not to be discouraged, because it is not the end of the road, so it is important for them to keep striving for the best in their performances.
“Coach, Jeffrey Hazel told his team that “This step we are about to take is very important for our football and country. We must get there, (to the next level); we need to get there; it is crucially important to get there,” said Hazel.
The coach told his players that we are a little family that needs to gel. He said that though we are a small nation, we have proven before that small size is no impediment to our success in sport.
With the other international teams already arriving in Basseterre for this week’s matches, President of the SKNFA, Mr. Anthony Johnson told the squad that despite the huge costs associated with the hosting of this final CFU leg, the local association felt it was important to bring the games to St. Kitts & Nevis because of the obvious benefits that could accrue in the medium and long term.
He said it was important to emerge as one of the two top teams, because this would take us into the CONCACAF Finals, and the next step from there, would be the Olympics in London, also in 2012.
Johnson reminded the players that once St. Kitts & Nevis comes out of this tournament as one of the two top teams, they would then move on to play against the United States, Canada, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico and Panama. These matches will be played from 22nd March to the end of April at various venues in the USA.
This said the SKNFA president would give our players, not only the opportunity to excel in this final leg but they would also be exposed to international scouts who are on the lookout for new talent. What this could lead to, said Johnson, is the opportunity to gain university scholarships and contracts from professional teams in the USA and elsewhere. He said moving on to the next round would also help in creating exposure to the country that might benefit its tourism profile.
The Cuban team arrived in Basseterre on Monday morning and Suriname and Trinidad & Tobago are due to arrive during the course of Tuesday 22nd November.
Matches in the tournament will be played this Thursday 24th, Saturday 26th and Monday 28th November, at the Warner Park Stadium. Games will be played at 6:00pm and 8:00pm in the double header fixtures for each day.