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The 20-man team departed the island on Monday evening for the four-team preliminary round. On Friday, Saint Lucia will face Guadeloupe, before clashing with hosts, Trinidad and Tobago, on Sunday evening.
The bulk of the team is similar to the group which advanced to the finals of the CONCACAF Under-17 in 2015. Should they advance from this group, they will be competing again October in the final round in Curacao.
Teams advancing from this competition will participate in the CONCACAF Men’s U20 Championship in 2017, from which the top teams will move on to the FIFA U20 World Cup Finals.
The bulk of Saint Lucia’s team is 17-18 years of age, with reserve goalkeeper Vino Bartlette the youngest, and striker Selwyn Boyce the oldest at 19, one of five boys turning 19 this year.
The goalkeeper position has been reinforced with the addition of Micoud custodian, Noah Didier, whilst another Micoudian, Viannie George, moves up from the U17 ranks.
The defense includes Keeroy Lionel and McCathur Louis of Canaries and Anse La Raye, respectively, the Gros Islet duo of Melvin Doxilly and Kerry Joseph, Micoud’s Dante Hippolyte, and Vieux Fort’s Alvinus Myers.
Leading the midfield will be national junior player of the year, Nyrone Winter, out of Vieux Fort, the Soufriere Comprehensive trio of Antoine Wilfred, Cassius Joseph, and Zacherinus Simon. Antoine and Cassius are both from Canaries; Zacherinus is from Soufriere. Former Under-17 captain Ryi Maryat is from Micoud. Tev Lawrence is a Gros Islet lad. And Cherdam Seraphin hails from Anse La Raye
The strike force comprises Selwyn Boyce, Albertini Philip of Roseau, Jamie Prospere from Vieux Fort Comprehensive and the community of Dennery, and Noah ‘Lucky’ Nicholas from Piaye Secondary and Vieux Fort.
The technical team is led by head coach Cassim ‘Vaso’ Louis, supported by former Saint Lucia international Alvin Xavier, technical director Cyril ‘Ces’ Podd, manager Chris Husbands, and physiotherapist Keiber Codrington.
According to the technical director, the Saint Lucia Football Association is confident that the team will do well, as it has benefitted from long-term planning. A second-place finish could see them through to the next round in Curacao, but Saint Lucia has a good recent history against Trinidad and Tobago in recent age group competition.
Says Ces: “It’s by design that Trinidad and Tobago scheduled their game against us last. They think they owe us one, so the toughest game will be left until the last game. This is the same team that has been together since under-15, so it’s still a development process. We have introduced three or four older players who will be brought in to strengthen the team. They have great team spirit, which is what you get when you build a team from under-15. You can see the camaraderie and the progress, not just individually, but as a team, and I’m quite confident the boys will deliver.”