U-20s face elimination
Marc Stamp, Gleaner Writer
Jamaica's Under-20 team is in grave danger of not advancing to the FIFA World Cup in New Zealand this year, following back-to-back losses in the CONCACAF Under-20 championship group stage.
After a 2-0 loss to Group A leaders Panama on Wednesday night at the National Stadium and a 1-0 defeat to Guatemala three days earlier, the host nation faces must-win games against the United States of America (USA) on Sunday and Aruba next Wednesday. Both games are scheduled at the Montego Bay Sports Complex in St James.
The Theodore Whitmore-coached team has only one point to show from three games after 2-2 draw against Caribbean rivals Trinidad and Tobago.
With two rounds of games remaining in the group stage, Jamaica are out of contention for the automatic spot in Group A, but are in with a very slim chance of making one of two play-off spots from the group.
At the completion of the group stage, the top teams from Group A and Group B will advance to the FIFA World Cup, while the second and third-placed teams from each group will participate in a play-off for the other two spots from CONCACAF.
Assistant coach of Jamaica's Under-20 teams, Lenworth Hyde, admitted that the young Reggae Boyz face a tough task of grabbing a play-off spot.
"It is really an uphill battle," Hyde said of Jamaica's chances of making the World Cup at a post-game press conference on Wednesday night at the National Stadium.
Edson Samm Record (58th) and Ismael De Leon (86th) netted as Panama moved to maximum nine points from three games and are hot favourites to qualify as group winners.
Guatemala who defeated Trinidad and Tobago 2-0 in the first game of a triple header on Wednesday, are in second place on seven points. The USA team climbed to four points after they swamped Aruba 8-0.
Trinidad and Tobago remained on four points, followed by Jamaica (1) and Aruba sitting at the bottom without a point.
"We will now have to move on. We will face USA next and we can't finish the tournament without a win. We are in a must-win game," Hyde told reporters.
"We will focus on the USA team and come up with a plan within the next three days. The team will have to focus. We will continue to prepare," he added.
Hyde was also of the opinion that the squad selection was flawed.
"We didn't have the right players. There are other players out there," he said.