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In another year, when there were no exceptional performances or achievements by Vincentian sporting personnel, the unbeaten run by this country’s Under-20 male Football team in the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) championships makes them the 2008 SEARCHLIGHT’S Top Performer.{{more}}

The team, thus far, has played five matches in the Caribbean round of the CONCACAF Qualifiers to the 2009 Under-20 World Cup, winning four matches and drawing the other.

In the first round, hosted in Grenada, the young Vincentians beat Guyana, the British Virgin Islands and Grenada.

They beat Guyana 2-1, the British Virgin Islands 23-1 and the hosts 1-0, to win the group.

In the second round played in Curacao, their streak of success continued.

Suffering at their feet was St. Kitts and Nevis, who was beaten 1-0, and the Netherlands Antilles held them to a goalless tie.

Again, the young Vincy Heat emerged top of the group, and did so with an under strength team, as several of the regulars were left home.

This put them into the finals of the Caribbean leg to be played here at the Victoria Park from January 9 to 13, 2009.

This is a rarity as not very often Vincentian football teams reach this stage, especially in aged competitions.

Prior to the Curacao trip, the Under-20 footballers were part of a two week tour to the USA, where they engaged mainly university teams.

And for good measure they drew their two friendly internationals recently with the more seasoned Trinidad and Tobago outfit.

Their upcoming assignments in the new year will see them facing the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Jamaica, in that order.

The Vincentians’ stand out player has been striker and Captain Cornelius Stewart, who has scored nine goals in the competition.

Stewart, Dwayne Sandy, Jolanshoy Mc Dowald, Darren Hamblett, Myron Samuel and Ronsil Badnock have all tasted senior team representation.

Samuel, a striker, who turned 16 earlier this month, is the youngest member of both the Under-20 and senior teams. He has the rare feat of representing St. Vincent and the Grenadines at the Under-17, Under-20 and the senior Vincy Heat, all in one year.

Sandy, a goal keeper, plays in Trinidad and Tobago for pro club AIA Neal and Massy Caledonia.

The winner of this CFU stage will immediately join fellow Caribbean participants Trinidad and Tobago in the CONCACAF Finals, while the runner-up will play-off against UNCAF’s third placed team Honduras for another. The CONCACAF Under-20 Tournament will be held in Trinidad & Tobago from March 6 to 15, 2009.

Also, Canada, Mexico, the United States, Costa Rica and El Salvador have qualified for the finals.

Four teams will qualify from the CONCACAF grouping to the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Egypt from September 25 to October 16. (RT)