A disciplined approach and competitive attitude are the ingredients head coach Marlon Harte intends to use when Barbados compete in the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Boys’ Under-15 Championship at the IMG Academy, Bradenton, Florida.
The junior Bajan Tridents are based in division one and will compete against Portugal, Jamaica and Costa Rica in the qualifying stage of group D from August 4 to 7 when the 18-member squad departs tomorrow afternoon.
“We have four games to play over five days, so physical preparation is essential which we did during our training camp this summer. We also got competition from teams that came in, so that helped as well. I think we checked off all the boxes in terms of our preparation. So we intend to be competitive and trust our system, our formula and be disciplined in our performance,” Harte said.
When placed in a group that has the likes of Jamaica and Portugal, one could expect keen competition. And even though Harte and company in charge of the national Under-15 team have done their homework and foresee healthy competition, especially from Portugal, he cautioned that Barbados should not be underestimated.
“It is division one football, and you are looking at the best teams in the entire CONCACAF, and I think that every group in division one will be challenging. And the fact that we are in division one says we can compete as well. I don’t think people should necessarily take us for granted. But in terms of preparation for those teams, we will try to stop them from doing the things that they want to do and be disciplined in our performance, try to cut out unforced errors and be brave in how we play.
“We have done a lot of research on Portugal online, YouTube and some other websites that we found. So, we know the shape we expect them to play. Portugal as a football powerhouse, we expect them to be challenging, but football is played on the day. So, once we play well, we allow ourselves to be competitive,” he said.
Barbados, captained by Tyrique Bailey- Edwards, have played several warm-up matches at home against St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia and St. Maarten in preparation for the competition.
Striker Najee Butcher, a product of the Alleyne School and Pro-Shottas Club, is one of the standouts for Barbados having scored in all pre-season games except one. Central midfield player Janash Jaunai is useful on both sides of the ball and Aaron Cumberbatch, a dynamic player, is also expected to perform well.
However, coach Harte expressed confidence in all his players and said: “I am satisfied in all of our positions, our boys have been together as a team for a year and a half. We know each other, we trust each other, and we want to be competitive.
“[After] discussions with the technical director we realised that the gap between the under-15 age group and under-17 is challenging for us in terms of getting quality opposition at a consistent level. So playing boys that can give us a real stiff challenge in terms of being organised with certain footballing aspects is vital. So we want to be able to travel in December or next year to get some real high-quality opposition in our age group. So, that is one of our major plans in terms of getting opportunities to test ourselves consistently before the under-17 championships in another two years,” he said.
Full team: Adam Mallalieu, Ramario Carter, Ethan Taylor, Tyrique Bailey- Edwards [captain], Shay Prescod, Kelon Carrington, Janash Jaunai, Aaron Cumberbatch, Shewayne Burke, Jonathan Sealy, Nadre Butcher, Khamani Cox, Savejoe Blenman, Zachary Applewhite, Colin Griffith, Kobe Hutson, Ethan Squires and Ryan Lashley.
Reserves: Justin Griffith, Jalen Ward, Akeem Chandler, Thierry Jones, Khalil Vanderpool- Nurse, Ramiro Dates and Christian St. Hill.
Team manager: Ortis Williams, sports therapist Jason Branch, technical director Ahmed Mohammed and senior head coach Russell Latapy.