Coach blames Under-17s’ collapse on immaturity

Coach blames Under-17s’ collapse on immaturity

PANAMA City, Panama — National youth coach Wendell Downswell said  lack of experience cost his team a place in the 2013 FIFA Under-17 World Cup to  be staged in the United Arab Emirates.

The Jamaicans led twice against Canada on Saturday — including a  2-1 half-time advantage — before a dramatic second-half defensive meltdown saw  the Young Boyz conceding three goals inside the final 30 minutes to lose 2-4 at  the quarter-final stage of the CONCACAF Under-17 tournament.

When the dust settled, Canada were through to the semi-final and  had automatically sealed their berth to the youth football showpiece in Asia,  while Downswell was left searching for the missing pieces to the qualification  puzzle.

He identified the team’s pre-tournament preparation — which was  limited, due to the Jamaica Football Federation’s (JFF) budgetary constraints,  to matches against mostly sub-par local club teams, as being inadequate.

According to Downswell, the tournament build-up contrasted with  the successful World Cup qualifying campaign two years ago when Jamaica had an  extensive camp in Brazil, which yielded no less than 20 practice matches against  good opposition on high-quality playing surfaces.

“We are extremely disappointed that we could not (qualify)…  we  were hoping that we could have been part of history by qualifying. We led on two  occasions and I think we were let down defensively. At this level, the  immaturity of these players came to the fore.

“If you look at these youngsters, they don’t play that level of  regular competitive football against quality opposition over an extended period  of time. Compare that to the North American and Central American teams… most  of those players are young professionals.

“Yes, we practised a lot at home, but local football and  international football is like night and day, and it was quite evident here and  I will continue to echo that sentiment… we tried with what we had, but it  comes down to the level of international exposure,” Downswell said.

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