Trinidad and Tobago's Soca Warriors bowed out of the 2024 Concacaf Futsal Championship, after another disappointing loss in a dismal campaign that never really got going in Managua, Nicaragua.

Following 4-7 and 3-5 defeats to United States and Guatemala in their first two encounters, Paul Decle's Soca Warriors required a victory in their final group encounter against Dominican Republic to keep their hopes of progressing to the quarterfinals as one of the best third-placed teams, alive.

However, it was not to be, as their Spanish-speaking Caribbean counterparts showed no mercy in a lopsided 11-1 romp at the Polideportivo Alexis Arguello, on Monday. The win by Dominican Republic saw them join United States, Guatemala, Cuba, Costa Rica, Canada, Mexico and Panama in the knockout stage, which kicks off on Wednesday.

Trinidad and Tobago had no response to the onslaught of Dominican Republic in their final Group C contest. David Rondon opened the scoring in the 10th, Jose Belliard struck in the 13th, and Marco Gomez added a third in the 14th to put Dominican Republic 3-0 up at half-time.

In the second half, Rondon secured his brace in the 23rd, and Belliard followed suit in the 25th. Hector Perez penned his name on the scoresheet in the 29th, before Jameel Neptune got the twin island republic's consolation in the 30th. Rondon completed his hat-trick in the 31st and then added a fourth in the 39th, while Guillermo Lopez (33rd), Ricardo Alvarez (35th), and Christian Gardelli (40th), also got on the scoresheet for Dominican Republic.

Meanwhile, the feature contest was a more mouthwatering affair, as Guatemala rallied for a 3-3 stalemate with United States.

United States scored three unanswered goals courtesy of Luciano Gonzalez (14th), Nilton de Andrade (20th), and Franck Tayou (21st), before Guatemala got into their rhythm and responded through Marvin Sandoval (31st and 33rd), and Patrick Ruiz (38th).

With the draw, Guatemala topped Group C, ahead of Dominican Republic, with United States securing one of the best third-place spots.

 

The four quarterfinal winners will not only progress to the semi-finals, but also secure qualification to the 2024 FIFA Futsal World Cup.

Jamaica’s young Reggae Boyz will have powerhouse teams United States and Costa Rica, along with Caribbean neighbours Cuba to contend with in the group stages of this summer’s Concacaf Men’s Under-20 Championships in Mexico.

Those teams will contest Group A of the tournament scheduled for July 19 to August 4. Honduras, Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Canada will contest Group B, while host Mexico, Panama, Guatemala and Haiti will lock horns in Group C.

The groups were revealed during a live draw on Thursday.

Jamaica's young Reggae Boyz, who topped Group F on their way to the Championships, will now be guided by Jerome Waite, who is looking forward to the challenge of possibly qualifying the country to its first Under-20 Men's World Cup since the Argentina feat in 2001.

To achieve the feat, Waite, who took the reins from John Wall after the Caribbean qualifiers, will have to first secure a top two spot from the Group, as only the top two finishers from each group, along with the two best-third-place teams, will advance to the quarterfinals.

From there, the four semi-finalists will secure qualification as Concacaf’s representatives at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup next year.

Waite, who is no stranger to high pressure situations, was at the helm when the young Reggae Boyz went into the 2018 tournament without much preparation or expectation, but surprised the entire nation when they finished level on 13 points from five games with Concacaf kingpins, Mexico, at the top of the group.

However, Mexico qualified for the second round by virtue of a better goal difference than the Jamaicans, as only the group winner advanced.

Since then, Jamaica's closest run to FIFA Under-20 World Cup qualification was when they made the quarterfinals of the 2022 tournament in Honduras.

"Qualification will not be easy, but it is something that can be accomplished," Waite said.

As the much-anticipated ICC Men’s T20 World Cup draws closer, Cricket West Indies president Dr Kishore Shallow expressed satisfaction with the region’s state of readiness for global showpiece which is jointly hosted by in the Caribbean and United States.

Shallow’s remarks followed a recent visit Kensington Oval in Barbados where he was assured that all was on course for the June 1-29 tournament.

Barbados will host nine matches– five in the group stage, three in the Super Eight second stage, and the final on June 29, which will mark the third such ICC marquee game to be staged at the venue following on from the historic One-Day International World Cup in 2007 and the 2010 T20 World Cup.

Though West Indies will not feature in any group stage games at the Oval, a box office fixture between reigning T20 World champions England and Australia is on the cards for June 8.

Ambassador Noel Lynch, chairman of the National Organising Committee, in a recent media conference said that the major elements of the storied venue would be delivered to tournament authorities next week while the remaining elements would be completed by month end.

“On the eastern concourse where there’s the party stand and the temporary facility, and all of those facilities that are coming in, we are sure that we’ll hand over those on the 30th of April. But we’ll hand over the major parts that you know – the 3Ws, the Greenidge and Haynes, the Media Centre, the field of play, the scoreboards, all of the electronic boards – will be finished within a week and handed over,” Lynch said.

“I think that’s ahead of schedule. I think Barbados has done an exceptional job. It wasn’t my job … when I came back from the US, we were already very far advanced in terms of the progress – the infrastructural progress at Kensington Oval,” he added.

Shallow agreed, as he gave the thumbs up to Barbados and other host venues across the region, who are well advanced in preparation for the tournament.

“Well ahead of schedule. I’m happy with the progress we’ve made so far with the World Cup and it’s definitely going to be a spectacle of an event and something we should all look forward to,” Shallow said.

He later revealed that there was one territory that was lagging behind in their preparations, but was reluctant to name the island.

Along with Barbados, games will also be played in Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“Only one facility in the Caribbean, one country (is) probably a couple weeks behind schedule, but we have their commitment that they are going to accelerate. It might take some day and night application but no doubt, by June 1, every country in the Caribbean is going to be ready,” Shallow shared.

With the ICC Men’s Twenty20 World Cup now less than two months away, West Indies Head coach, Daren Sammy says he has just about settled on his squad for the global showpiece, which will be jointly hosted in the Caribbean and United States.

Sammy, who captained the West Indies in T20 titles in 2012 and 2016, is aiming to cop his first title as a coach and, by extension, lead the regional side to a third crown. As such, he pointed to three Ps –personnel, preparation and purpose –which has guided his decision-making where selecting players is concerned.

“We’ve selected squads and exposed about 22 players over the last year in preparation for this main event that is coming, and fine-tuning and giving clear guidance as to what roles are required in the different positions, to help us to be successful,” Sammy told journalists during a press briefing on Monday.

“So you would’ve seen … different guys getting different opportunities over a consistent period of time in different roles, and it has brought us down to probably the final 15, 16, 20 players, and it’s about fine-tuning now. I’m probably quite sure as to what my World Cup team will be. It’s based on the measures that we’ve taken and the strategic roles we have given players,” he added.

Sammy expressed satisfaction with the entire thought process that goes into their preparation to ensure that players’ mindset and performances align with their objectives. He also welcomed the fact that the core group of players are already showing a heightened sense of belief, which he believes is vital to their charge.

“Where before 2023 we were averaging six or so runs per over between overs number seven to 15 whereas international teams were going at seven, close to eight, we have now changed that to seven. Still, we need improvement but the small measures that we’re taking and the preciseness with which we’re working has enabled us to take little strides,” Sammy noted.

“Where our team is really strong is in the engine room. What I call the engine room is from number four to seven, where you have your all-rounders coming in and keeping on the pressure. I’m quite happy with where we are as a T20 team as we’re building towards the main event. I see a group of men that believe that they can win,” he declared.

Sammy’s side, to be led by Jamaican Rovman Powell, will contest Group C alongside New Zealand, Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea and Uganda in the preliminary stage of the June 1-29 tournament.

Their group campaign will be spread across Guyana, St Lucia and Trinidad, and Sammy said much of the planning took into consideration the various venues.

“A lot goes into our thinking when we select different teams and with the different venues that we have, if you see the different teams we play, it’s right in line with the strength of our team and understanding what it will take to defeat these guys,” Sammy shared.

“The biggest thing for us has been preparation and it shows that when we prepare well, we’ve given ourselves the best chance of performing. The system that we’ve implemented is just geared towards winning the World Cup, and that’s what we have to do,” he ended.

The men and women who will be responsible for the preparations of the pitches and fields for the upcoming ICC Men’s Twenty20 (T20) World Cup, are now well equipped with the tool of the trade. Following a two-week series of workshops, the ground staff across the region went through theory and practical sessions geared towards education and re-education on the rudiment of their crucial roles.

Over 100 participants completed the workshop series, which included both indoor educational sessions and outdoor practical events. The events were led by senior officials of Cricket West Indies (CWI).

Winston Reid, the Lead Curator for the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA), lauded the initiative, which he hopes will continue beyond the World Cup.

Reid, who is based at Kensington Oval in Barbados, the venue that will host the June 29 World Cup final, had a hugely successful cricket career when he played over 100 matches at the regional level for Barbados. He joined the staff at the historic venue in 2005, ahead of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2007.

“This was a very good initiative by the ICC [International Cricket Council], CWI [Cricket West Indies] and the BCA [Barbados Cricket Association]. This is something that should be encouraged, and I know the staff here benefited tremendously. It was a wonderful eye-opener, an education in many ways it was enlightening and interactive and the responses I got from the others who participated, said to me it was clear they too benefitted in a meaningful way,” Reid said.

“The reason behind the workshop was to improve in every way we can and to do better at our jobs. We are gearing up towards the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, which will be the biggest event we have ever hosted. We will be staging the final here, at this magnificent venue, so we want to make sure everyone is fully equipped.

“Not only for Kensington, but for curatorship at all the other venues around the island and the region. We want to see better pitches and fields and playing conditions for our players to show their skills and also to entertain the fans in the stands. So, this was a very timely workshop series which augurs well for the game in the West Indies going forward," he added.

Roland Holder, CWI Manager of Cricket Operations and Head of Cricket for ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024, outlined the reasons behind the series of workshops. He said the series was crafted by CWI and designed to upskill existing curators across the region by exposing them to international best practices for pitch preparation and applicable maintenance, while simultaneously expanding the cadre of curators by identifying new talent with the appropriate combination of theoretical knowledge and practical exposure, to lend further expertise to match venues to deliver a world-class event in June.

A CWI Curators Manual was also produced in the lead up to the workshop and will be disseminated to the curators.

Six countries in the West Indies will host matches in the ninth edition of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup which will be played from June 1-29. West Indies, which hosted the event in 2010, will hold matches at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Antigua; Kensington Oval, Barbados; Guyana National Stadium, Guyana; Daren Sammy Cricket Ground, Saint Lucia; Arnos Vale, St Vincent and Brian Lara Cricket Academy, Trinidad and Tobago.

The event will be the largest in the tournament’s history with 20 international teams playing 55 matches across nine locations. It is the first time USA will host matches at a T20 World Cup, with 16 first-round matches split between Nassau County International Cricket Stadium (New York), Grand Prairie Cricket Stadium (Dallas), and Broward County Stadium (Lauderhill).

With an historic third-place finish at the Concacaf Nations League now out the way, Jamaica’s senior Reggae Boyz Head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson is hoping they can ride the momentum to an even bigger accomplishment, which is to qualify for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

Though Hallgrimsson would have preferred the 2023/24 CNL title, as opposed to the bronze they secured with a 1-0 win over Panama, he believes the achievement represents a step in the right direction on their quest to add to the country’s 1998 World Cup feat.

“This is just a part of our journey. We were trying to build something for this tournament as there is a saying that ‘success is not a destination, success is not a date, it’s a continuous journey to the right direction’. So, we’re just working on improving this team, as our biggest goal at the moment is to try to reach the World Cup finals,” Hallgrimsson declared. 

Jamaica’s third-place battle followed a heartbreaking 3-1 extra-time loss to United States in an entertaining semi-final contest that they led from the very first minute, but lost after Corey Burke’s last-gasped own-goal brought the opponents back into the game.

Still, Hallgrimsson took the positives from the tournament, as he pointed to the psychologically importance and confidence gained heading into the prestigious CONMEBOL Copa America, which also serves as part of the Reggae Boyz preparation for the World Cup qualifiers.

“This is a good step to play important matches, to play big tournaments, and to play strong opponents like the United States and Panama. They are two of the three highest-ranked Concacaf teams and we showed that we are closing in on this gap, even with the number of players not with us. So, I have to give a lot of credit to the players for the way they presented themselves for Jamaica,” Hallgrimsson said.