Arch rivals Canada and the United States are in the same group for the Confederation of North, Central American & Caribbean Associations of Soccer (CONCACAF) Women’s Under-17 tournament that starts at the end of the month in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Canada was crowned regional champions in 2010 while the Americans have won two of the three titles, including the inaugural tournament five years ago and the last edition in 2012.
“We are guaranteed a game against tier one opposition and in terms of development of these players, they get a chance to put into practice everything that we’ve done,” said coach, Bev Priestman. “Everything we are working on is part of the women’s national team program. They get to put that into practice in a real competitive environment…It’s only going to add to them that when they get to the senior women’s national team, that they have got these sorts of experiences under their belt.”
A total of eight teams, divided into two groups, are participating in the regional series.
Beginning play on October 31 against Guatemala, the national side will oppose Trinidad & Tobago on November 2 and the United States two days later. The first two games start at 3.30 p.m. while the U.S contest will begin at 6 p.m.
The other group comprises host country Jamaica, Haiti, El Salvador and Mexico.
The top two teams in each group will advance to the semi-finals on November 7. In addition to qualifying for the final on November 9, the semi-finalists will join host country Costa Rica as the CONCACAF representatives in next year’s International Soccer Federation (FIFA) youth World Cup.
This is the first time that Jamaica will be hosting a women’s regional championship.
“Jamaica has always been known as a hospitable and welcoming island and we are confident the country has the infrastructure and know-how to set the bar even higher and host not only regional championships, but also world championships in the future,” said CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb.
The fourth FIFA Under-17 World Cup will take place from March 15 to April 5. Canada has qualified for the previous three finals.
Japan, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, China, Colombia and Paraguay have already booked their spots. Africa’s three representatives will emerge from a qualifying tournament involving Zambia, Sudan, Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea. They will play home and away matches between November 1-3 and November 22-24.
Three teams will advance from Europe after that continent’s Under-17 championship between November 26 and December 8 while the Oceania qualifier takes place in New Zealand from December 2-7.