Playing in the picturesque confines of the island paradise of St. Lucia in the final pre-qualifying quadrangular for the Caribbean region, the youngsters from the small island cluster of St. Vincent and the Grenadines showed off a penchant for fancy football with three straight wins and a bag-full of goals in Vieux Fort.
First up in the tricky-looking Group D, Vincy Heat were made to sweat it out to notch a 2-1 scraper of a win over hosts St. Lucia at the National Stadium on 20 August. Cornelius Stewart struck first for the skilful visitors in the 25th minute only to see the lead levelled by a 66th minute stunner from Brad Emmanuel. But St. Vincent's battlers kept their cool and Quillan Tash - who would go on to spearhead the side in the remaining matches - swooped to seal the win with only eight minutes left on the clock.
After the stresses and strains of their opener, St. Vincent were offered little respite facing off with Grenada's 'Young Spice Boys,' who had beaten Barbados in their first match. But another impressive performance was on the cards for the up-and-coming islanders as Tash opened the scoring with his second goal of the competition. Seinard Bowens and Teron Millar also tallied in the emphatic 3-1 win.
And in their final match of the quadrangular on 24 August, St. Vincent again did the business putting paid to winless Barbados 2-0, making it a perfect nine points from three matches. Tash was again the man of the hour, scoring the game's both goals within thirteen minutes to bring his tally to four goals in three matches.
St. Vincent now join fellow quadrangular winners Bermuda, Dominican Republic, Trinidad & Tobago, Haiti, Jamaica, Netherlands Antilles and St. Kitts & Nevis in the final round of Caribbean qualification. The first of the two final-round four-team groups will battle it out in Trinidad & Tobago and pit the hosts against Dominican Republic, St. Kitts & Nevis and St. Vincent & the Grenadines. Jamaica will host the other group where the 'Reggae Boyz' will meet an impressive Haitian lot, Bermuda and the Netherlands Antilles.
With seven goals scored and only two conceded in their pre-qualifying run, 'Vincy Heat' will surely be fancying their chances on the big stage in Trinidad. Only three of the eight finals Caribbean sides will go on to the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the big show in Canada next year.
The region's two final groups will be hosted in Mexico and Panama, where the three victorious Caribbean participants will join up with the two host nations, USA, Guatemala and Costa Rica in hopes of getting among the final Canada-bound 24-team field.
Recently re-named the FIFA U-20 World Cup and formerly known as the FIFA World Youth Championship, the under-20 showpiece is FIFA's second-largest global competition and has been a proving ground for future stars since its first instalment back in 1977.