Cayman ready to host U-17 World Cup qualifiers

| 18/07/2016
CNS Local Life

Kareem Foster (centre, in red and black) will play an important attacking role for the Cayman Islands in the Under-17 World Cup qualifiers

(CNS): The Cayman Islands is gearing up for three days of international youth football with the country hosting the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Under-17 World Cup Group 2 qualifiers, from 20-24 July at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex. In addition to Cayman, the group comprises Aruba, Puerto Rico and Haiti. In the tournament’s first day of games, Wednesday, 20 July, Puerto Rico play Haiti at 5pm and the Cayman Islands face Aruba at 7:30pm.

On Friday, 22 July, Haiti play Aruba at 5pm and the Cayman Islands face Puerto Rico at 7:30pm. On Sunday, 24 July, the final day of competition, Aruba face Puerto Rico at 5pm and the Cayman Islands play Haiti in the 7:30pm finale.

Group 2 winners will join the winners from the five other groups of Caribbean qualifiers, along with host country Trinidad & Tobago and the best runner-up, in the final round, scheduled for 18-25 September.

For the teams competing in the final round, five spots will be available for the CONCACAF Under-17 World Cup qualifying tournament to be played in early 2017. The Caribbean’s representatives in the last edition of the CONCACAF tournament were CFU champions Haiti, runners-up Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Cuba and St Lucia.

Four countries from CONCACAF will qualify for the 17th edition of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup finals to be played in India in September and October 2017.

The Cayman Islands team has been preparing for the past five years for opportunities such as this to showcase their talents, and to do so in front of their home crowd is extra special for this group of boys.

Neil Murray, coordinator for the Cayman Islands Youth Football Programme and the Under-17 National Football Programme, said, “We need to change our football culture and we need to do it now. No longer do we want to just participate in these very important international tournaments, we want to compete and set a precedent for our Under-15 and Under-13 National Programmes so they can ‘raise the bar’ for future youth national teams.

“This tournament is this present group of boys’ World Cup. The players can take enormous pride in saying that they competed in a FIFA Youth World Cup, whatever the outcome.”

In 2015, this group of players placed third out of 12 countries in the CFU Under-15 Boys’ Caribbean Championships in Sint Maarten. The third-place finish was the first time a youth national team from the Cayman Islands had ever finished in the top three in any competition.

“We are under no illusion that this will be easy, quite the contrary,” Murray said. “The three visiting countries are experienced, strong and very talented, but we will not worry about how they play, we must concentrate on playing our game, to our strengths.

“The coaching staff of Ernie Seymour, Ken Downey, Antwan Seymour and Luis Morejon have worked extremely hard to prepare this group and we will do our best. Can this group make history once again like they did last year? We will see.”

Organisers are encouraging all sports enthusiasts to come out to cheer on the Cayman Islands team during the qualifiers, whose theme is “Support Our Nation”.

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Category: Football, Sports

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