Jamaica, Haiti in quarter-final showdown - Burrell heaps praise on youngsters
GEORGETOWN, Cayman Islands (CMC):
Jamaica booked their spot in the quarter-finals or the CONCACAF Girls Under-15 Championship, when they played to a 0-0 stalemate with Costa Rica on Monday.
Playing in their final preliminary round contest, Jamaica failed to find the scoresheet against fellow Group C heavyweights, who entered the contest also unbeaten.
The result was surprising as both teams had scored heavily in their previous games, with Jamaica amassing 14 goals and Costa Rica, 12.
Jamaica will now take on Haiti at the TE McField Sports Centre today, whereas Costa Rica will do battle with Canada in the first game at the same venue.
President of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), Captain Horace Burrell, has expressed pleasure at the team's progress.
Noting that "greater attention to our youth teams and their development is one of the main objectives of the current administration", Burrell said as much resources as was available was pumped into the preparation of the squad after the staging of the national Under-15 domestic tournament.
"With players as young as 12 years - many of whom had never left the island before - the girls displayed a strong determination to do well and special pride in representing the country. It must be noted that this is not a Caribbean tournament, but at the broader regional CONCACAF level. Hence they had to quickly develop confidence to get over the challenges of the big football stage.
"These girls, who will be the core of the country's future Under-17 and Under-20 national teams, are gaining priceless experience, which will be to the country's and their benefit," Burrell said.
Haiti finished second in Group D after drawing 1-1 with Canada on Monday, as both teams entered their final preliminary game with two wins each.
Haiti and Canada finished level on seven points, with the North Americans adjudged group winners on virtue of goal difference.
In the other Group C preliminary game on Monday, Anguilla and Belize drew 1-1, to pick up their first points of the competition. Both teams suffered heavy defeats to Jamaica and Costa Rica in their earlier games.
Trinidad and Tobago, meanwhile, also qualified for the next round following their 2-0 victory over Honduras on Sunday, which left them top of Group B on seven points.
They will now come up against the Bahamas at the Truman Bodden Complex, after the Bahamians drew 0-0 with British Virgin Islands in their final Group A game on Sunday, to finish second to hosts Cayman Islands.
In the other quarter-final, Cayman Islands face Honduras.