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The Bahamas advances to CONCACAF finals!

A Bahamian soccer squad has achieved a significant milestone!

For the first time in the history of sports in the country, a Bahamian soccer squad, male or female, has qualified for the finals of CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football), where the top three teams will secure their tickets for the biggest soccer extravaganza in the world in their age group.

A jubilant under-17 women’s national soccer team returned home from Kingston, Jamaica yesterday where they accomplished the historic feat. The team defeated Guyana on Saturday, 1-0, to qualify for the CONCACAF Women’s Under-17 Finals as the third place team, joining Trinidad & Tobago, and Jamaica.

“The girls are very upbeat and very excited,” said Bahamas Football Association (BFA) Vice President Fred Lunn yesterday. “Saturday’s win was a wonderful win for the girls. We’re very excited. That’s a very dedicated team and coaching staff right there. Despite not winning their first two, it was decent results because they played hard and the scores reflected that. We felt they played well and gave themselves a chance but just had some tough calls go against them. We’re looking forward to the next step,” he added.

The Bahamas lost its first two matches of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Championships, 2-0 to host country Jamaica, and 3-0 to Trinidad & Tobago, at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex, in Kingston. Both teams were heavy favorites against The Bahamas. Even Trinidad Head Coach Stephan De Four couldn’t help but to give the Bahamian team credit for the way they played.

“They (Bahamas) were a

very stubborn team to break down,” he was quoted as saying. “They are a very hard working team, but not too technical, but just as they provided some trouble for Jamaica, they did the same for us. In the end we managed to stay [focussed], carry out our game plan and come away with the win.”

Team Bahamas came back on Saturday to get past Guyana, 1-0. The Bahamas came into the match against Guyana with the edge over their opponents, having conceded eight fewer goals, in the matches against Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica. It was 14-year-old attacker Keisha McCartney who broke through for The Bahamas, scoring the team’s only goal in the 43rd minute to propel the country into the CONCACAF Finals.

With the win, The Bahamas will now join Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica in the CONCACAF Under-17 Women’s Championship, where the top three teams will qualify for the 2012 FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup in Azerbaijan. Trinidad & Tobago won the CONCACAF second round tournament this past weekend, defeating the hosts, Jamaica, 1-0, in the championship match on Saturday.

“It feels good to advance, “ said Lunn. “It’s at a point now where the next round will be extremely tough, but the good thing is that now the girls have the experience of playing against Trinidad and Jamaica. They know what to expect. I think that as a team, they just have to identify their strengths and weaknesses and take advantage of their opportunities when they present themselves. This will be an opportunity for them to work on areas that they fell down on, in Jamaica,” he added.

The CONCACAF Championships will be held from May 2-13, 2012, in Guatemala, where the host country Guatemala, Canada, Mexico and the United States await. The Central American playoff winner between Costa Rica and Panama will complete the eight-team line-up. As for Team Bahamas, BFA Vice President Lunn said that the association is planning a social gathering for the girls on Friday night at the BFA’s Centre for National Football Development where they will officially recognize them for the historic accomplishment.

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