Robert Bailey, Gleaner Writer
Wendell Downswell, assistant coach of Jamaica's Under-20 football team, is expressing confidence that the junior Reggae Boyz will qualify for this year's FIFA Under-20 World Cup tournament. The country will begin CONCACAF final-round qualifiers on February 18 in Mexico.
"We are looking forward to a grand performance from them because the expectations are high," said Downswell, following the announcement of the 20-man squad at a press conference at the JFF office yesterday.
Downswell, along with the Jamaica Under-20 contingent, is scheduled to depart Sunday for a two-week training camp in Mexico.
"The youngsters want to do themselves and the country proud and we are quite optimistic about the chances of these youngsters qualifying as the second Under-20 unit to the World Cup," said Downswell, head coach of the national Under-17 team. The Jamaicans last qualified for the Under-20 World Cup Finals in 2000.
"I think that this is the best possible set of players that we have now going forward," Downswell said, adding that he is not all pleased with the preparation.
"It wasn't a satisfactory preparation because we could have gotten some more international games," he said. "However, the fact that we were able to play against a number of the Premier League teams, which is competition similar to what we are going to face in Mexico, augurs well for the preparation of these youngsters."
The squad is headed by overseas-based players Sean McFarlene of the University of St Leo and son of former senior national striker Onandi, Damion Lowe of Hartford University in the United States. The remaining players are: Rashaun Patterson, Nico Campbell, Alvas Powell, Zhelano Barnes, Javaun Waugh, Kareem Manning, Shawn Lawes, Rickardo Oldham, Romario Jones, Omar Holness, Keneil Kirlew, Andre Lewis, Mark Brown, Andrew Allen, Paul Wilson, Oshane Booth, Cleon Pryce, Kendon Anderson.