Two first-half strikes from midfielders Devonte Richards and Nathan Skeete propelled Barbados’ Under-17 squad to a 2-0 victory over St. Kitts and Nevis yesterday at the Wildey, St Michael AstroTurf.
The countries in preparation for the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Under-17 tournament played two international friendly matches where Barbados won the first 3-2 on Saturday and maintained their dominance last evening.
The Renaldo ‘PeeWee’ Gilkes-coached side struck a goal early in the fifth minute compliments of Richards who capitalized on sloppy defensive work from the Kittitians who were saved on numerous occasion by their excellent goalkeeper and captain Zian Drew.
The young Bajan Tridents controlled the offensive plays and tactically spread the ball wide on the wings which resulted in goal number two scored by Skeete from the right with a shot that curled past Drew in the 34th minute.
Drawn in group F for the CONCACAF under-17 competition which plays May 1 to 16 at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, Barbados have been placed among three other teams that include giants United States of America, Canada and Guatemala.
Four successful teams from the Under-17 tournament will go forward to represent CONCACAF at the 2019 FIFA World Cup in Peru.
During the post-match press conference last night, Gilkes said that despite the much welcomed friendly matches against St. Kitts and Nevis, the Barbados team had fallen off the pace since last December when they visited and played against Argentina’s national Under-17 side.
“Since Argentina, we fell off a bit. We had some space in between there with regards to practice sessions. What we wanted to do so to keep everyone happy is that we took a day off from our regular schedule to appease the premier league clubs that the boys play for, so they can get some time to practise and play.
“So, we fell off a bit in that regard but obviously leading up to the championship, again we would sit at the round table and decide how we are going to get these boys a bit more often. Easter vacation is coming up, we have two weeks and maybe we can use that period to properly prepare and get the guys a bit more often and get them back up to speed.
“But being very honest, I think we would have fallen off since the Argentina tour from a physical perspective and also a technical perspective, “ Gilkes said.
Prior to St. Kitts and Nevis, Barbados Under-17s contested matches against Antigua last week and defeated the visitors 2-0 and 3-0 in those exchanges. While the national under-15’s trounced Puerto Rico 3-0 also played last week.
According to Gilkes, these games serve the purpose of what he considered a challenging group but not an impossible one in group F.
“We use these games particularly with the results being secondary, with the opportunity to try some things or basically execute things we worked on at practice. So even though the result may have been favourable over these two encounters, there is still a lot of work to be done,” he said.
St. Kitts and Nevis coached by former international player George Issac had a much better second half compared to the first 45 minutes in which they were beaten for pace by Barbados’ solid midfield.
However, despite the effort, they were unable to reap the reward of their labour which Issac narrowed down to nervousness.
“I think it was the nervousness of the guys from the beginning and they aren’t used to the pitch. But I tell them it doesn’t matter where football is played it is still the same game and we just got to play the game in the right way with the right attitude and spirit,” Issac said.