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Coach Butler says U-17 Boyz are a work in progress

Jamaican Reggae Boyz Under-17 forward Orel Miller escapes two opponents from Trinidad & Tobago during the friendly international match at the Captain Horace Burrell Center of Excellence at the UWI Mona Bowl in St. Andrew on Friday. Jamaica lost 0-1. (Photo: Joseph Wellington)

NATIONAL Under-17 Head Coach Altimont “Freddy” Butler says it will take some time for the team to believe in his plans after losing 0-1 to Trinidad and Tobago in a friendly at the UWI-JFF on Friday Captain Horace Burrell Center of Excellence.

The young Reggae Boyz dominated possession for 90 minutes, but struggled to create scoring opportunities. Their best chance fell to captain Giovanni Taylor, who saw his effort saved in the 26th minute.

Trinidad won the match with a stoppage time strike, courtesy of Jamaica-based Akel Vespery who played for Munro College in the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association football competition.

Although he wasn’t bothered by the loss, Butler said he was disappointed to see some bad habits had crept into the team.

“It wasn’t about the result or anything because we are still trying to get to know the character and characteristics of our players. It was good for me to see them in an international match, but it was bad because I don’t know the players – I don’t even know half their names,” he said.

“But in terms of our performance, I think the goal we were trying to achieve was to connect them. As the match went on, we went back to the (habit) of Jamaican footballers, where we just kick the ball away and don’t possess it.”

However, Butler says he will be able to find the solution in the near future.

“It will come with time because we have to challenge the players to believe in themselves that we can have a little more possession. As the game went on, even though it was a game we dominated, we got tired and the habit is that long ball – and we went back to the habit. It comes with time and training. It’s two training sessions where I’m still trying to figure out the players, but with time we’ll try to change that,” Butler said.

Trinidad Head Coach Shawn Cooper praised his team for their performance despite being underdogs.

“I (saw Jamaica) bring in eight foreign players. The squad we have brought here is a squad some of whom have no international experience – not even traveling or playing games at this level – so when you look at the exposure both teams have, it’s chalk and cheese.

“So in this game you have to find a way to win. And sometimes you let the pressure soak and then you go to the counter because after a while they’re going to get complacent and all you need is one chance – and that’s what we got and we took it,” Cooper said.

The two countries will compete against each other again at the same location on Sunday at 9 a.m.