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The Bahamas heads to Guatemala

CONCACAF Championships for under-17 women to get underway tomorrow
  • The Bahamas’ Under-17 Women’s National Soccer Squad is pictured during a mini tournament in Florida. The team used the tournament as a tune-up for this week’s CONCACAF Women's Under-17 Championships in Guatemala City, Guatemala. FILE PHOTO

Guardian Sports Editor

Published: May 01, 2012

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A historic journey toward soccer prominence starts this week for The Bahamas under-17 women’s national soccer squad!

The team has already made headlines, advancing further than any other soccer squad in the history of this country. Now, those young ladies want to take it a step further, hoping to advance to the pinnacle of the sport in their age bracket. A top three finish at this week’s CONCACAF Women's Under-17 Championships in Guatemala City, Guatemala, would qualify the national side for the FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup, slated for September 22 to October 13, in Azerbaijan. FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) is the world’s governing body for the sport. For the young Bahamian ladies, the task certainly wouldn’t be easy as they find themselves in the same pool as the United States, Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago. Only the top two teams from that pool will advance to the semi-finals.

The Bahamas is slated to play the United States on Thursday at 2 p.m. at the Estadio Cementos Progreso in Guatemala, then Mexico on Saturday at 4:30 p.m., and Trinidad next Monday at 2 p.m. The semi-finals will be played on May 10 and the final, on May 12. All of the matches will be played on artificial turf.

“There’s no doubt that it is going to be very tough for our girls but we’re very optimistic,” said Bahamas Football Association (BFA) Vice President Fred Lunn yesterday. “These girls have trained very hard and they’re ready to represent The Bahamas to the best of their ability. This is a tough group, and this tournament is going to be a great experience for them. They qualified third in our region, and they are well prepared to represent the country.”

The girls are being coached by Daria Adderley and the manager of the team is Karen Green. The players who will try to make history once more are Taj Dorsett, Amari Bethel, Sheryl Evans, Dawn Dean, sisters Lian and Lauren Haven, Joya Smith, Kennadi Green, Cori Strachan, Shelby Green, Lindsay Seymour, Tate Cuffy, Keisha McCartney, Dena Ingraham, Raunice Butler, Clayre Saunders, Akwah Thompson, Shekhinah Wells, Jodei Clarke and Eden Taylor.

They qualified for the CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) Championships as the third ranked team from the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) behind Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica. They lost to Jamaica in the CFU tournament, 2-0, and were shut out by Trinidad, 3-0. Now, they have to deal with Trinidad again, in addition to meeting up with the United States and Mexico. Host country Guatemala, the defending champions Canada, Panama and Jamaica, will play out of the other pool.

Be that as it may, Lunn believes this team is destined for greatness. Regardless of the outcomes of their matches, he is certain that they would have left a lasting impression amongst the competing nations.

“We’re encouraging them to leave everything on the field from their first match straight up until their final match,” said Lunn yesterday. “The United States, Mexico and Trinidad are three very tough teams. These girls had a good match against Trinidad in Jamaica so the confidence is there that they can play with them. In addition, they’ve trained a lot harder over the last few months. Nervous energy could be good energy. We just want them to use that energy on the field. Daria and her coaching staff have worked very hard with them and they are motivated to go out there and perform well.”

The CONCACAF championships get underway tomorrow and will run until May 12. The young ladies will leave for Guatemala City this afternoon. Head Coach Adderley was unavailable for comment yesterday, but according to reports, the girls realize the task at hand and are prepared to go out there and give a good account of themselves.

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