'We have a great chance' - Edwards confident of strong U17 showing
Three players could make their debut when Jamaica takes on the USA in their opening CONCACAF Under-17 championship game tomorrow in Panama.
The final 20-man squad, which left the island for the championship yesterday, included six newcomers in Richard Thompson, Akeem Mullings, Caseam Priestly, Shane Ricketts, Jermaine Lyons and Ricardo McIntosh. Coach Andrew Edwards told The Gleaner that three of those players are likely to be on the starting roster.
"Fifteen of the 20 players selected played the first two rounds of the qualification campaign and three of those playing for the first time had been a part of the group that was together from Under-15.
"But among the first-timers, we expect that at least two to three of them will make the starting line-up come Sunday (tomorrow)," he said.
Edwards admitted that some players showed great promise, but underlined that it was the players who worked well together, showing consistency and application, who got the nod.
PLAYERS SELECT THEMSELVES
"When you look back at the players in the programme, there are a number of names that jump out at you that you wanted to develop. But coaches don't select teams. Players select themselves based on what they do on a consistent basis.
"We don't have any players left out because of injury, so we are pretty comfortable as these players have put up their hands and said they are prepared to do the job. They demonstrated more consistently that they can perform at the level required," Edwards stated.
The young Reggae Boyz face USA, Mexico and El Salvador in Group C at the championship, with group winners and runners-up to advance to the second stage, and Edwards believes they have put together the best group possible.
"We have every confidence that we have the best combination of players to give us the best chance of qualifying for the World Cup," said Edwards.
"We have named a team that compliments each other. We have dynamic combinations for different situations, offensively and defensively. We just have to trust our judgement and put the boys out there with faith and give them the confidence to go out and execute as best as they can," he said.
The rest of the team reads Nickque Daley, Raewin Senior, Kaheem Parris, Renato Campbell, Nickache Murray, Jamoi Topey, Kimanni Gibbons, Tajay Griffiths, Calwayne Allen. The squad is completed by overseas-based players Kendall Edwards, Blake White, Cobi Atkinson, Jeremy Verley and Damani Osei.