The Bahamas Football Association (BFA) has named a 20-member team for the CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football) Under-17 Qualifiers (CU17Q) set to take place from August 30 to September 8 at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
They were in action in a scrimmage game against the Dynamos at Roscow A.L. Davies Soccer Field on Saturday, as they looked to work on chemistry and positioning.
Named to the team are James King, Toby Cartwright, Claudius Curtis, Kai Perez, Kristan Watchorn, Luca Chiacchiari, Jaxon Bethel, Matthew Holst, Conry Raine, Nahum Johnson, Cameron Pratt, Ahmaad Smith, Jack Massey, Jordan Cheetham, Reuben Edgecombe, William Gardiner, Robert Holcombe, Atarri Moss, Dylan Archer and Deron Ferguson.
Nesly Jean is the head coach, and he is assisted by Kevin Davies. The goalkeeper coach is Avery Kemp.
“We want them to perform well and enjoy themselves,” Jean said. “Go on the field and produce what we do in training. I told them that there is no pressure, but they need to go on the field and express themselves. We want everyone to do well.”
Against the Dynamos on Saturday, Jean said that he saw the players using what they taught them in practice.
“What I have seen from the guys is that the stuff we have been working on in training, they are producing it on the field. There is a lot more work to be done before we leave for competition. They are getting a hold of things and we see what we like,” Jean said.
There are 19 teams participating in the tournament which will be playing in three different countries. They are split into four groups. The Bahamas is in Group A which also includes Bermuda, Guyana, Bonaire, Saint Martin and the British Virgin Islands. The Bahamas will kick off the tournament on Tuesday August 30 against Saint Martin. That game will get underway at 9 a.m.
The Bahamas will be playing five games in seven days. Jean said that he has tried to get in some scrimmage matches to mirror those quick turnaround matches.
“What we tried to do in the last few weeks is to get a game in every week. However, before that, we try to mimic how the tournament would be based on the schedule that they have. It helps to understand and see how far along the guys are in terms of their fitness,” Jean said.
The team started tryouts back in June and Jean said that there has been huge improvement from all of the players.
“We have seen improvement from guys individually and collectively as a team,” Jean said. “When they came here at first, there was a lot of work to be done in terms of positioning. We explained to them how we want them to play. It was something that they were not used to, so it is progressing day by day. They are now having an understanding.”
After the round robin play, the four group winners will advance to the 2023 CONCACAF Under-17 Championship (CU17C). They will be joining the top 16 ranked nations that have been seeded directly into the group stage of the championship. That tournament will be played during the first quarter of 2023.