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.

Jamaica's Under-17 team will host their Trinidad and Tobago counterparts for two international friendly encounters this weekend.

The games, which forms part of a week-long camp for both teams, will also see the young Soca Warriors, who are scheduled to arrive in the island on Wednesday, lock horns with a local club team during their visit. The first game is scheduled for the UWI-JFF Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence, CHBC on Friday at 4:00pm, while the second encounter will take place on Sunday at 9:00am.

Trinidad and Tobago will then close their visit against the youth team of a prominent club, next Tuesday.

Both the young Reggae Boyz, to be guided by former Reggae Boy midfielder Altimont "Freddy" Butler, Carlton Simmonds and Vassel Reynolds, and the Shawn Cooper-coached young Soca Warriors are preparing for the Concacaf Men's Under-17 Championship which was pushed back to 2025. The tournament was initially scheduled for August this year.

According to recently installed Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president, Kieron Edwards, this friendly initiative is in line with the TTFA’s application to the FIFA Talent Development Scheme, which aims to provide additional resources to member associations for the elite youth national teams.

Edwards insisted that there will be continuous efforts to provide opportunities for exposure and match preparation for the various national teams.

“In keeping with the executive’s mantra to strengthen partnerships and our relationship with our brothers in CFU, we are pleased to be embarking on this journey to Jamaica,” said Edwards.

“Despite the challenges, the commitment to the continued development of our high-performance programme shines through. This trip marks a pivotal step towards our U-17 team’s quest to qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2025. It’s a testament to the dedication of all involved, securing this opportunity mere days after the new executive’s installation," he added.

The current T&T U-17 selection features several players who have graduated from the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association High Performance Programme and competed at the CONCACAF Boys Under-15 Championship in the Dominican Republic last August, recording memorable wins against Costa Rica and Qatar.

T&T squad: Antuan Louison, Seth Hadeed, Jonathan Mason (Fatima College); Alejandro Harper, Eran Mc Leod (CIC); Nikosi Foncette, Kyron Baptiste, Josiah Simmons, Jimally Renne (Presentation College, Sando); Jasai Theophilus, Jayden Christophe (QRC); Dimitre Jones, Keston Richards (Arima North Sec); Jaydon Caprietta, Jeremiah Daniel, Adasa Richardson, Antonio Hills, Mikhail Clement (Naparima College); Salim Soanes (St Benedict’s College); Necose Moore (Chaguanas North Sec); Riquelme Phillips (Speyside High School)

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