Jamaica

The past
One of the major powers in the Caribbean region, Jamaica have been more renowned in recent years for a staggering level of inconsistency. Their last trip to a FIFA U-17 World Cup came all the way back in 1999 in New Zealand. This time out they will be eager to avoid losing all three games like they did on their maiden voyage on the junior world  stage, and with a re-jigged squad and an ambitious and tactically astute coach, they may well be able to upset the apple cart at Mexico 2011.

The present
Former international Wendell Dowsnwell is the man responsible for sending Jamaica to Mexico and their first U-17 finals on over a decade. The former Jamaica international was able to put the failures of the past to one side and inspire his youngsters to put on a rousing display on home soil in the CONCACAF qualifying tournament. They opened with a mature and confident 1-0 win over Guatemala in Montego Bay and followed it up with a 2-2 draw against Caribbean neighbours and arch-rivals Trinidad and Tobago, after which they dug deep to pull off a shock 2-1 win over fancied Honduras in the quarter-finals and through to Mexico. A last-four loss to eventual champions USA was followed up by a loss to Panama in the play-off for third-place, but it was already a matter of job done for the ambitious Jamaicans by that point.

The future
Coach Dowsnwell has assembled a squad short on individual brilliance but packed through with a collective spirit and winning attitude. Among some of the standouts in the side are Kemo Wallace and Jason Wright, who was the team’s top scorer in the preliminary competition. The coach, who was a tricky winger during in his playing days with the Reggae Boyz, will now need to put the excitement of the qualifiers behind him and focus squarely on improving on a horrific performance that saw Jamaica lose all three of their group stage games the last time they reached a U-17 world finals. “Full marks to the youngsters as they fought the whole way. The fans supported us in a great way for the whole tournament and now we just need to focus now on getting better and better as a team.”