Jamaica became the fourth and final team from North, Central America and the Caribbean to qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Cup Mexico 2011. Hosting the qualifying competition at the sunny confines of Montego Bay, the young Reggae Boyz booked passage to their second junior world finals thanks to a 2-1 win over fancied Honduras in the late quarter-final on Wednesday.
With a slim win and a draw in the group stages, the Jamaicans appear to be getting better with every game on their home turf. Jason Wright scored both the goals for the hosts and although they faced some tense moments in the closing stages after Bryan Rochez scored in the 65th minute, they were well-deserved victors on the day.
“It’s an ecstatic feeling,” said Jamaica coach Wendell Downswell having guided his team to a first U-17 World Cup since 1999. “Full marks to the youngsters as they fought the whole way. I love these fans here and they supported us in a great way for the whole tournament. We just need to focus now on getting better and better as a team.”
Canada became the third team from the CONCACAF zone to book passage to the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico, beating Trinidad and Tobago 2-0 in the early quarter-final.
The Canadians, coached by Sean Fleming, join USA and Panama – who qualified by winning their respective quarter-finals yesterday – in what will be their fifth appearance at the junior world finals to date. Having defended stoutly in the group stages of the qualifying competition – not conceding a goal in a draw with Honduras and a rout of Barbados – they surged into attack against their Caribbean counterparts on Wednesday.
Christopher Nanco opened the scoring after only 15 minutes and Keven Aleman grabbed his third goal of the competition just five minutes later. T&T were unable to get a rhythm going for the remainder of the game and Canada had goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau to thank for yet another clean sheet heading into their semi-final with Panama.
“I am so happy for the players and all their families,” said coach Fleming as Canada return to the U-17 finals for the first time since 1995. “It was a good team effort and this team has some real great qualities. I couldn’t be more proud of the boys.”