Marquel Waldron
Marquel Waldron
Marquel Waldron said it was a 'dream' for him to lead his country into the Under-20 World Cup qualifiers.

Waldron, who has already played for the senior team, believes his team can advance to the next round when they take on Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Cayman in the Cayman Islands next week.

Waldron, who described skippering the Under-20s as one of the biggest accomplishments of his career so-far, said: "To captain your country is something you dream about when you're young and for me it has become a reality.

"The mindset is definitely to advance past this round - everybody seems rally focused to get to the next stage."

Waldron and Kris Frick, who has also played for the senior team, are the most experienced players in a squad that also includes the likes of North Village's Shayne Hollis, Devonshire Cougars Tumani Steede and Boulevard's Ian Coke - all of whom have experience in the Premier Division.

The coaches were unable to secure the services of rising national team star and Ipswich Town Academy player Reggie Lambe.

"We looked at getting Reggie, but he's at a very important part of his young career and we were unable to get him

"Hopefully we can get through this round and one or two of the players who were not available will be back next time," said assistant coach Jack Castle.

Castle and head coach Kentoine Jennings are confident of making the top two in the four-team group and qualifying for the next round.

"We are going to Cayman to win some games," insisted Castle.

Jennings added: "Jamaica are the favourites in the group. Don't know too much about Puerto Rico or the Cayman Islands, we're going in blind against them.

"I think they (Cayman and Puerto Rico) are teams that we should beat, Jamaica, I'm not as sure about. I'm not saying we can't beat them but I would say they will be our toughest opponents."

The team travelled to Reading, Pennsylvania for a warm-up tour last month, where they had a 2-2 draw and a 6-5 win over PDL team Reading Rage.

Castle said they had made ten changes since that tour and shored up defensively, thanks to the inclusion of Waldron and Frick.

"When we go to these tournaments we really have to think about fitness, shape and organization

"Since we came back from Reading we have put in a lot of beach work and hopefully with the ten changes we have made from that tour we should be alright."

Their first match will be against the Cayman Islands, Wednesday, July 23, followed by Jamaica, Friday, July 25 and finally, Puerto Rico, July 27.

The next stage of the World Cup Youth Football tournament will be played in the month of September; a location has yet to be determined.