In the curtain-raiser at 3:00 pm, Panama will take on Aruba before the USA play Guatemala at 5:00 pm to complete a triple-header at the ‘Office’.
Jamaica have qualified only once for a FIFA Under-20 World Cup tournament and that was the 2001 edition in Argentina under coach Wendell Downswell. The last time any Jamaican team qualified for a FIFA World Cup was the Under-17s in 2011.
Current head coach Theodore ‘Tappa’ Whitmore is hoping he can end that 14-year drought for the Under-20s and give the Jamaica Football Federation a welcome boost.
“If we are not ready now, I don’t know when we will be ready. I can’t say we are 100 per cent ready, but I don’t want to have any excuses, so we will have to be motivated by passion rather than fear and use that as energy to be efficient in this tournament,” Whitmore told the Jamaica Observer.
On Wednesday, Whitmore had the Reggae Boyz at Up Park Camp for a team building exercise among the soldiers, and he knows playing against T&T will be one of the toughest matches.
Because they are hosts, Jamaica didn’t play in the Caribbean Championship and today they will be severely tested by eventual Caribbean champions T&T.
“Anyone of our national units up against Trinidad teams, will always going to be a battle. It’s more than football and we expect a tough game and I think we are up for it,” said Whitmore.
The Young Reggae Boyz will be led up front by the powerful Michael Seaton, who was part of Jamaica’s senior team that won the Caribbean Cup on home soil last November.
Seaton plays for DC United, but is currently on loan to Richmond Kickers in the USL Professional Division, the third tier of the American leagues.
Seaton should be partnered by Junior Flemmings upfront, with the likes of captain Javaun Waugh, the son of former national player, Clifton Waugh, anchoring the midfield alongside Ishmale Currie. Cordel Benbow, and the touch masters Luca Levee, Martin Davis or Khalil Stewart should be pulling the strings from midfield.
However, there is concern about goalkeeper Nicholas Nelson, who Whitmore said had to sit out Wednesday’s training session and will have to pass a fitness test for today’s match.
Trinidad and Tobago, who defeated Haiti 3-0 in the Caribbean final, are coming from a camp in Florida and they, too, are bubbling with confidence.
“These players such as Muckette, Creed and John will definitely add some quality to what we already have,” King was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, both Panama and USA are favoured to kick-start their campaigns with victories over Aruba and Guatemala, respectively.