Caribbean teams ready for CONCACAF U-20 Championship challenge

Five teams from the Caribbean are ready to contest Group A of the CONCACAF Under-20 Football Championship which kicks off today, January 9, at the National Stadium (The Office) in Kingston, Jamaica, with a triple-header starting at 3:00 pm.

The Montego Bay Sports Complex will host all the games in Group B, with action getting underway on Saturday, January 10 with a triple-header. The final phase will be played on January 24, when the Confederation will crown the champion.

President of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Gordon Derrick extended best wishes to all the teams who have made it this far and reminded them that the sky is the limit.

“A new year brings new hope and pride for us in the region. These young men stand ready to take Caribbean football to the highest level and this tournament is their vehicle to achieve this goal. I wish all of you the best of luck and know that the entire Caribbean is sitting on your bench ready to encourage, “said Derrick.

The five CFU teams are hosts Jamaica, Aruba, Haiti, Trinidad & Tobago and Cuba, while the other CONCACAF teams are Honduras, Canada, El Salvador, USA, Mexico, Panama and Guatemala.

Aruba will meet Panama in the first game at 3:00 pm, followed by USA versus Guatemala at 5:30. At 8:00 pm, hosts Jamaica tackle rivals Trinidad & Tobago.

On Saturday, at the Montego Bay Sports Complex, defending Champions Mexico face Cuba at 3:00 pm, before Honduras tackle El Salvador at 5:30. At 8:00 pm Haiti meet Canada in the feature game.

At the draw carried out by CONCACAF and held at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort Hotel in Montego Bay on Thursday, October 30, twelve teams were divided into two groups of six by CONCACAF’s Director of marketing and communications, Jurgen Mainka, and Jamaica’s Former national players Aaron Lawrence and Ricardo Gardener (members of the 1998 World Cup team).

Group A features host Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Aruba, Panama, United States and Guatemala, while the Group B teams are Haiti, Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Honduras and El Salvador.

The top team from each group will advance to the World Cup, while the second- and third-place teams from each group will advance to the final-day knockout phase with the chance to battle for one of a pair of play-off matches which will determine CONCACAF's other two World Cup berths.

In order to enhance development of the competition, a new CONCACAF Under-20 tournament format has been introduced to increase the number of guaranteed games for each participant to five, up from two in the previous editions. Mexico are the two-time defending CONCACAF Under-20 champions, having claimed the title at home in Puebla in 2013, and in Guatemala City in 2011.