U20 Boyz playing for pride - Panama, Guatemala in dogfight for automatic World Cup spot from Group A
Paul Clarke, Gleaner Writer
Jamaica will be playing for pride when they take the field against Aruba in the final Group A game of the CONCACAF Men's Under-20 Championship in Montego Bay, having flopped their way through the championship to be on one point.
In other matches on the triple header at Montego Bay Sports Complex, Catherine Hall, Panama tackle Guatemala at 3 p.m., and the United States take on Trinidad and Tobago at 5:30 p.m.
Jamaica's head coach, Theodore Whitmore, blamed the short time he had with the squad as one of the main reasons for their failure but is looking to end on a high note.
"A lot of things need to be in place moving forward," Whitmore said. "We need to sit down and chart the way forward for Jamaica's football, and that must begin, sadly, with the end here against Aruba."
The Jamaicans lost 1-0 to Guatemala, after playing out a nail-biting 2-2 draw with Trinidad and Tobago at the National stadium in Kingston. They then fell 2-0 to the always-improving Panama, before being thoroughly outplayed in another 2-0 loss, against the United States of America (USA).
Four Straight Wins
Panama (12 points), on the other hand, have racked up four straight wins for top spot in Group A and need a draw to qualify for the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand.
Mexico, from Group B, have already qualified by topping that zone.
Guatemala (10 points) are aiming to qualify for their second FIFA U-20 World Cup and first since 2011. Getting there means winning all three points against Panama.
While the group winners are guaranteed automatic qualification to the World Cup, the second- and third-placed teams from both groups will play off to secure the other two spots among CONCACAF's World Cup four.
Group B teams Honduras (seven points) and El Salvador (five points) are also in line for the play-offs.
Panama's head coach, Leonard Pipino, wants improvements for today's crucial game that will decide the automatic Group A qualifier to the World Cup.
"We played badly against Trinidad but still managed to win. That means there are things we need to get right," Pipino said.
"Against Guatemala, we will correct this and play good football because we want to win, and win in a way that is true to our way of playing," the Argentina-born coach said.
Meanwhile, in Group B action from Monday night, Honduras beat Haiti 3-2 to add their name to the team list for the play-offs, eliminating the losers - Canada and Cuba - in the process.
3 p.m. Panama vs Guatemala
5:30 p.m. USA vs Trinidad and Tobago
8 p.m. Jamaica vs Aruba