Saint Lucia U20 could cast a wide net for Concacaf tournament

By Terry Finisterre

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(SNO) — The Saint Lucia Under-20 team is set to take on the challenge of the Blackheart Knockout Football Tournament this weekend, when they face Marchand in the opening round on Sunday. But the national side that lines up in this local competition could look very different in six weeks’ time.

Saint Lucia has been drawn with Haiti, Barbados, Bermuda and Costa Rica in the 2018 Concacaf Men’s Under-20 Championship, scheduled to be played November 1-21, at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.

Presently, Saint Lucia has about five professional or semi-pro players who may be eligible to join the national youth team, with up to 20 more playing at the collegiate level in the Caribbean and the United States.

Already, goalkeeper Vino Barclette, who recently enjoyed a stint with the Barbados Soccer Academy, has made a tremendous impression on Under-20 head coach Francis ‘Baba’ Lastic. Alvinus Myers, Noah ‘Lucky’ Nicholas and Cassius ‘Messi’ Joseph also played for BSA.

Also in Barbados are two former national youth team captains, midfielder Ryi Maryat and defender Romario Lendor. Both are enrolled in the sports programme at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill, and play with the campus team, the Blackbirds.

Thanks in part to the Free Kick Foundation, there are more Saint Lucians playing collegiate football in the USA than ever before. Up to 20 of these from 13 different colleges and universities are eligible to play for the cerulean blue.

Among those being monitored by the Saint Lucia Football Association Inc. are Colby midfielder Jean Christian Guichard, Trinity College midfielder Nigel Gustave, and Georgia Southern University midfielder Trei-Ellis Schwartz, whose cousin previously played for the senior national men’s team. Two others, attacker Meshema Charles (Berkeley College, NY) and defender Khari Alexander (Waldorf) may be eligible as well.

These would be new to the national team, but DeShawn Roserie (Florida Memorial), Aazah Daniel (NC Wesleyan), Lael Cherry (Bloomsburg), Keeroy Lionel (Essex), Anton Paul (Lackawanna), Zachernus Simon and Jervel Tobierre (USC Aiken), Djal Augustin (Talladega College) and Nangee Philip (LSU Alexandria) have all previously represented the island at some level.

Other familiar faces include Joshua Solomon-Davies, the England-based defender with a rich footballing lineage, who plays for Tranmere Rovers, and Nyrone Winter, a former junior player of the year, who is currently in Canada playing in the Versus Soccer League.

Other names to look out for are Chaim Roserie (cousin to Deshawn) who is at Club Deportivo Alcoyano in Spain, Julius Lansiquot, a defender who plays for Barnet in the lower leagues in England, and Benjamin Henry, an attacking midfielder with England’s Solihull Moors and Barnsley.

The new format of the Concacaf men’s under-20 competition eliminates the regional Central American and Caribbean qualifiers, guaranteeing each entrant a minimum of four competitive games. Saint Lucia is in Group E, where Haiti is the seeded team.

After round robin play, the six group winners will advance to the qualification stage, where they will be divided into two groups of three teams. After a second-round robin play, the two group winners plus the second-place finishers will qualify for the FIFA U-20 World Cup. Additionally, the two groups winners will advance to the tournament’s final to determine the regional champion.

The competition will determine the four Concacaf representatives at the 2019-U20 FIFA World Cup in Poland. It will also determine the Concacaf teams playing at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima.

The United States are the defending champions.

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