February 16, 2017 San Jose, Costa Rica – Its’ been meticulous and methodical, with a keen attention to detail that drives every practice session, in the busy and bustling metropolis of this Central American county.
Historic though their participation maybe, it would appear that nothing is being left to chance, as the Antigua and Barbuda Men’s U20 football team step into high gear, for their CONCACAF U20 opener against regional power house Mexico this Friday.
The squad, fully assembled as of Sunday 12th February, look a keen bunch and have been responding well to the Coaches instructions, eager to make that historic first eleven to represent Antigua and Barbuda at this level.
Technical Director Rolston ‘Debu’ Williams, who leads the Coaching staff, continues to emphasise the focus and discipline required to produce positive results in this tournament.
“We got here by working and sticking to a plan of action, playing as a team and executing our collective roles and responsibilities, for the benefit of the entire group. This is not the time for anyone to hide, no free ride here, we must all step up and I am encouraged the boys have responded extremely well”, he commented.
This team possess an impressive record with five wins, two draws and only losing the CFU Finals to Haiti, (5-2-1), in the two rounds that got them to Costa Rica 2017. Leading striker Javorn Stevens is hoping for another eye catching role. He recently signed his first professional contract with MLS outfit Seattle Sounders and will lead the line for the team.
“We hope to represent Antigua and Barbuda to the best of our ability, all of us are committed to doing well, the sessions have been good, although it has taken some time adjusting to the conditions, we will be ready on Friday to do our best, he said. It’s one game at a time and hopefully we can advance”, he concluded.
The squad since October in Curacao added some new faces, leaving Head Coach George ‘Kajawawa’ Warner, impressed with the physical and mental sharpness of the team.
“Elliot Webber comes to us from EPL team Leicester City, he’s both tricky and pacey, and is prepared to do the defensive work required in this team. Kalis Gore is also new but has slotted in well in several roles asked of him by the coaching staff. He further added, Elijah Jarvis and Christian Fernandez are both in the US Collegiate system, but no strangers to representing Antigua and Barbuda at U17 level, their tournament experience will be important, throughout these series of matches”.
Head Coach Warner continued, “Zayn, (Hakeem Mohammed), after his impressive showing in the CFU round of matches, returned to Mansfield Town FC and immediately signed his first professional contract. He’s back, stronger and certainly more confident and is expected to play a pivotal part”, an ever upbeat Warner stated.
Vashami Allen was the only player selected in the CFU All-Star eleven from the Curacao round, and is expected to anchor the defence with Jarmarlie ‘Billy’ Stevens, Matthew Hall and Jacob Blackstock, while Benedict Bowers, Luther Wilding, Andre Browne, Leroy Graham and Denie Henry will provide that central midfield solidity and penetration.
The mood in the camp is positive, they’re all aware of the demanding followers at home, but their feet are firmly planted on the ground but ready to strike some telling blows. With this attitude towards preparation and the talent in this team, one things for sure, they’re not here to make up the numbers, for sure, Rolston ‘Debu’ Williams and his coaching staff demand nothing less.
Antigua and Barbuda Men’s U20 Squad: Christian Corbett – Generation Next, Kahendi Jackson – SAP FC, Old Road Vashami Allen – Fort Road FC, Jarmarlie Stevens – Old Road FC, Kendukar Challenger – Young Warriors FC, Denie Henry Parham FC, Leroy Graham Villa Lions FC, Javorn Stevens – Seattle Sounders, Jacob Blackstock – Banbury FC, Matthew Hall – Ford Road FC, Benedict Bowers – Bishop Burton College & Goole AFC, Luther Wildin – Notts County, Shalon Knight – Sweets FC, Zayn Mohammad Akeem – Mansfield Town FC, Christian Fernandez – Villa Lions FC, Andre Browne – Old Road FC, Elliott Webber – Leicester City, Kalis Gore – Leicester County, Elijah Jarvis – Bert University, Ajani Thomas – Sweets FC
Official Staff: Rolston Debu Williams – Technical Director, George Kajawawa Warner – Head Coach, Vorne Pop T James – Assistant Coach, Malcolm Challenger – Equipment Manager, Courtney Francis – Equipment Manager, Julio Gonzalez – Physiotherapist, William Richards – Trainer, Cedric Joseph – Team Manager