U-17s look to Panama - Coach Edwards wanted more warm-up matches
National Under-17 coach Andrew Edwards is bemoaning the fact that his players have been unable to measure their recent progress against international opposition before the team departs for the CONCACAF final round in Panama on Friday.
Since securing their place in the confederation championship, the young Reggae Boyz have faced the United States, Canada and Cuba friendlies earlier this year.
With no international warm-up games on the cards going into the tournament, Edward turned to the nation's top-flight teams in order to play high-quality opposition.
"Right now, things are about 85-90 per cent. We are sharper. Physically, we are in a better place. Technically, we have improved, and tactically, we have improved a lot, but we need consistency on the tactical side," he told The Gleaner.
"But we would have really loved an opportunity to test all that against international opposition," Edwards added. He said the boys have responded well in the local matches they have played.
In matches against Premier League teams, they drew 2-2 with Harbour View, beat Boys' Town 2-1, and UWI 2-0, but went down 2-1 to Waterhouse.
"Against senior opposition, we were competitive and got positive results in all the games bar one. The games also told us how they have matured, so despite the fact that we would rather have played against better organised teams or international games against our peers, the opportunity to play is always good, and we have benefited in no small measure.
"They competed strongly and our tactics surprised Boys' Town, Harbour View and UWI. Those games, we played well. The Waterhouse game was a poor game by our expectations and standard." he stated.
Meanwhile, for the period leading up to the championship Edwards said they hope to keep all the players fit and healthy.
"We have to manage our injuries, make sure we get to Panama with 20 healthy bodies and healthy minds," he said.