Butler, Cooper take positives from U-17 friendly series; eye improvements ahead of qualifiers

By Sports Desk May 07, 2024
T&T's Shawn Cooper (left) and Jamaican counterpart Altimont Butler. T&T's Shawn Cooper (left) and Jamaican counterpart Altimont Butler.

Jamaica’s Under-17 men's Head coach Altimont Butler and his Trinidad and Tobago counterpart Shawn Cooper, took heart from their teams’ performances in the recent two-match friendly series, as they welcomed the early preparations for next year’s World Cup qualifiers.

The teams shared the series one win apiece, as Trinidad and Tobago won the first encounter 1-0, before the Jamaicans replied with a 2-1 victory in the second contest at the UWI-JFF Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence last weekend.

Both Butler and Cooper believe their objectives for this, the early stages of their preparations, were met as both anticipate significant improvements along the way in their build up to the 2025 Concacaf Men’s Under-17 Championships, which will serve as the qualifier to that age group’s World Cup in Qatar, also scheduled for next year.

“The objective was to see how we could connect as a group. It wasn’t about the results as we are still trying to learn the characteristics of the players. It was good for me to see them in an international game, and I think we can get it together soon,” Butler said.

Earlier this year, FIFA, announced that the Under-17 World Cup will be expanded from 24 to 48 teams, this Butler said increases their chances of making the final cut for the global showpiece, as he is expecting to unearth some talented overseas-based players to strengthen the team.

“That means more spots for Concacaf, and that gives us even a greater opportunity to qualify for the next World Cup. However, in order to qualify, we have to fix a few things,” he noted.

For Cooper, not losing the series away was a positive in and of itself, as it represents a solid platform on which his young Soca Warriors outfit can build going forward.

“For me, leaving here one-all in the series, I think I am on top. We took the first rubber. They had to come hard to equalise, so we are leaving Jamaica with our heads held high. It is always beneficial in playing Jamaica. This game was played like a proper international game and not like a training game or a friendly. Some of our guys saw what it takes to play at the international level and it is all well for their development,” Copper shared.

“We are hoping to go foreign and see what guys we have that can fill in. We have a number of guys at Inter Miami who played against Olympic Lyon, so we have about three of them. We are looking to broaden our horizons so that when we go back to Trinidad, with the exposure these guys have, it will only do well for us in going forward,” he added.

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