Gomes satisfied as under-20 footballers prepare to leave for Concacaf championships

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(From left) Technical director Sowerby Gomes, midfielder Kofi Gonsalves, utility player Dajun Barthley and midfielder Connor Hadeed visited the Observer studio on Thursday ahead of their departure on Sunday for Trinidad (Observer photo)
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By Neto Baptiste

Technical director for football in Antigua and Barbuda, Sowerby Gomes, is pleased with the preparation of the country’s under-20 men’s footballers ahead of their Group H campaign in the Concacaf Under-20 Championships slated to start next weekend.

Speaking ahead of the team’s scheduled departure on Sunday, Gomes said they will spend one day in Trinidad for a friendly encounter before moving on to host country, Honduras.

“We go straight to Trinidad and we will be in Trinidad for two nights where we will play a friendly match on the 13th against the Defence Force team, a formidable opposition that will give us what we are looking for, and then we will leave on the 14th for Panama, and from Panama to Honduras on the 14th July,” he said.

“I think that over the last couple of weeks the team has prepared very well, and in fact, the senior national team has been our major training partner and we’ve played a few friendly games against them that would have brought out the best in our players,” he added.

Antigua and Barbuda play their first match on June 18 when they face host Honduras at 9:30 pm.

Gomes, a former national defender, said that apart from wanting to qualify for the next round of matches, he is hoping that a number of players will benefit from the experience.

“Each of these players are at the prime age they are looking for. It’s an under-20 tournament and the players cannot turn 20 within 2023, so it means that if they are 19, they cannot take part in this tournament, so you see the depth in more 18-year-old players in this tournament, so it’s young players and they are looking for the cream of the crop,” the TD said.

Meanwhile, England-based midfielder Kofi Gonsalves said that although the pressures of coming into the squad as an overseas-based has not yet sunken in, he is hoping he could inspire others through his performance.

“I don’t think the pressure has sort of settled in as yet, and honestly it is a big honour playing from England, so a lot of players here might look up to me because of that, but you just have to keep focused on the tournament and try to play your best game,” he said.

Following their opening match, Antigua and Barbuda will play Costa Rica on June 20 before taking on Jamaica two days later on June 22.

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