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Under 20 squad moves to CFU second round

Under 20 squad moves to CFU second round

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Against all expectations, St. Vincent and the Grenadines advanced to stage two of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Under-20 competition.

It was a rarity for this country, as not many representative teams get beyond the first round of age group football tournaments.{{more}}

The Vincentians played unbeaten, topping Group D, hosted in St. Lucia. They first beat the host 2-1, then whipped favourites Grenada 3-1, and shut out Barbados 2-0. Striker Quillan Tash scored in the three matches and ended the tournament with four goals. He was the overall leading goal scorer.

But this victory was more savoured by coach of the team Earl Samuel, whose technical ability was questioned in some quarters.

A buoyant Samuel said on return, “I know my ability as a coach and the record speaks for itself.”

“They said we were unprepared, but my programme was set up for the players to peak at the right time and that manifested itself in St. Lucia as there were no injuries”, Samuel boasted.

He revealed that the players were aware of the adverse criticisms and were determined to prove the detractors wrong.

It also came against a heavy undercurrent over opposition to the team’s participation.

There was a divide among influential members of the football set up; some believed that foregoing the tournament was the best option.

Added to this was the lack of finance which demanded the intervention of government ministers Sir Louis Straker and the Hon. Glen Beache, who made the St. Lucia sojourn a reality.

But the problem plagued team had to field a depleted squad versus Barbados, after a management team headed by Bert Francois decided to send two of the players back home.

Samuel disclosed that he was certain that the next stage will be more competitive and demanding.

“We are prepared to do a lot of work and we are now more confident”, he said.

SVG will engage Trinidad and Tobago, St. Kitts and Nevis and the Dominican Republic in the next phase.

A host nation is yet to be finalised. Jamaica, Haiti, Bermuda and the Netherlands Antilles will battle it out in the next group. Three teams, along with the USA, Guatemala and Costa Rica will go on to the CONCACAF final to be hosted in Panama and Mexico. Three teams from this play off will advance to the FIFA finals which take place in Canada next year.

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