Edwards looks to establish rhythm, confidence in practice matches
Livingston Scott, Gleaner Writer
Jamaica Under-17 football coach, Andrew Edwards, got his wish on Monday when the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) announced that the young Reggae Boyz, who are preparing for the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers in Honduras, will play two warm-up matches against Costa Rica on February 21 and 24 in the Central American country.
Edwards, in earlier interviews, cited a lack of international practice matches as the team's biggest drawback going into the Febuary 27 to March 15 tournament.
"We are very happy that the JFF has been able to get the two practice games for us. It is an indication of the confidence the JFF has in the project," said Edwards. "It is a wonderful opportunity for us to get some international practice, as some of these players have never played international football before and some have also never travelled before. so they will definitely benefit from this type of exposure."
He added: "While Costa Rica is not Honduras, we expect that there will be some similarities ... which will give us a good level of adaptation.
"These games are not for looking at mistakes, this is basically to measure where we are in terms of our readiness and what areas we might need to touch up. We want to build confidence and establish our rhythm," Edwards outlined.
Additionally, the Jamaica coach said they want to play well.
"Although we want to win and winning is a habit, we also know that performance determines results more than anything else. So we want to focus on the performances and set ourselves specific targets in those games and, whatever the result, we will focus on those performance targets for individual players, groups of players, and the team as a whole."
Jamaica will play in Group A alongside the United States, Trinidad and Tobago, Guatemala, Cuba and hosts Honduras. Edwards believes the team's preparation and quality give them a good chance to qualify for the Under-17 World Cup Finals in Chile this year.
Group B consists of Costa Rica, Canada, Mexico, St Lucia and Panama. The group winners qualify automatically for the World Cup, while the runners-up and third-place teams from each group will play off for the other two spots.
"We have a real good team, one that is good enough to qualify for the World Cup," said Edwards. "We have a full bill of health in the camp, which is very good. Overall, we are very pleased with the preparation and we continue to work on all the critical areas to see how we can get the boys in the best possible shape with the 18 days remaining."