Edwards confident of World Cup qualification
Having led the young Reggae Boyz in qualifying to the CONCACAF final round, set for Honduras next February, coach Andrew Edwards now has his sights set on taking Jamaica's Under-17 football team to the FIFA Under-17 World Cup, which will be hosted in Chile in October 2015.
Jamaica, Haiti, Cuba, St Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago are the five Caribbean teams seeking to claim five of the coveted final 12 CONCACAF spots. This Jamaican team is seeking to follow on the heels of a Wendell Downswell-led Under-17 team that marched into the 2011 FIFA World Cup in Mexico.
Following their disappointing loss to hosts Haiti in the final of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Under-17 Championship on Sunday, Edwards told The Gleaner that he is confident that the team will make the final cut.
"Now we turn our attention towards Honduras," he said. "Once we prepare well, we will compete for one of the five spaces."
"We just need to broaden our talent pool, have more training camps, and get more practice matches for the players," he said.
Won three out of four
Jamaica won three of their four games and Edwards believes that, despite losing in the CFU final, there was much to be satisfied with.
The Young Reggae Boyz beat Martinique 4-0 in the opener, clipped Guadeloupe 3-2, turned back Cuba 3-0, before losing by two goals to hosts Haiti in the final.
"We were above the other teams in the tournament," Edwards observed. "The quality disparity was clear in my view."
"Haiti is not far from us in terms of quality," he said. "They had a bit more experience, having been training for two and a half years, while we were together for three months."
He added that conditions like crowd support and playing surface favoured the Haitian team.
With more than three months to go before they resume qualification duties, the coach was concerned with what he considered a lack of ample training time.