Under-20 D-Day on Monday
Marc Stamp, Gleaner Writer
The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) is in danger of losing the right to host next month's CONCACAF Under-20 Championship.
CONCACAF has expressed dissatisfaction with the readiness of the National Stadium to host the tournament, and a final inspection of the venue is expected to be conducted on Monday to determine whether the tournament will be shifted from Jamaica.
"There is a huge challenge in hosting the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship," president of the JFF, Captain Horace Burrell, announced at the Flow Champions Cup Knockout football competition awards ceremony in New Kingston yesterday.
"CONCACAF had inspected the venue months ago, and will be coming back for a final inspection on Monday. We (JFF) received information last night (Thursday) that if everything is not ready by Monday, we could lose the hosting rights," a very concerned Burrell informed.
Burrell said that on several occasions the Independence Park Limited (IPL) has given assurance that the venue would be ready for the championship.
"I'm wondering if the IPL is competent. A delegation from CONCACAF will be coming for a final inspection," Burrell emphasised.
However, Major Desmon Brown, general manager of IPL said that the playing surface is ready but his team is working on getting the lights in place.
"The JFF spoke to us last night (Thursday) saying that the inspection team is coming back. ... So we have started working this morning (yesterday) to get the lights ready," Brown told The Gleaner.
"We have four towers, but couple of the banks on each tower are not working. We are going to do our best to get them ready," he promised.
"As far as I'm concerned, the general condition of the playing surface is up to standard, even better than when we hosted the World Cup qualifiers last year. The lighting - we are working on it," he added.
Twelve countries are down to compete in the January 9-24 tournament. Group A includes hosts Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Aruba, Panama, the United States, and Guatemala. Group B contains Haiti, Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Honduras and El Salvador.
Matches are scheduled for the National Stadium and the Montego Bay Sports Complex. Both venues will host Group A matches. However, the Montego Bay Sports Complex will host all the action in Group B.
The tournament will crown the CONCACAF Under-20 champions and qualify four teams to the FIFA Under-20 World Cup New Zealand 2015.