JAMAAL SHABAZZ, coach of the national women’s football team, has named the American-born duo of midfielder Liana Hinds and goalkeeper Saundra Baron in his team for the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Women’s Challenge Series.
T&T will be hosting Suriname (on Wednesday), Grenada (on Friday) and Guyana (April 29) in a round-robin group, at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva.
This will be the first international action for the T&T women since a two-game home series against Panama last month. Panama won the first meeting 2-1 at Couva and the second game, at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella, ended in a 1-1 draw.
“We’re expecting to have three additions to the team that played against Panama,” said Shabazz, in a recent interview. “We’re bringing in Aaliyah Prince, the Under-17 player, Liana Hinds who was in the World Cup Under-17 (team of 2010) and Saundra Baron.”
Shabazz pointed out these matches will be an ideal test for the team before they kickstart their 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifiers.
“This tournament is, in fact, a preparation because it comes about three weeks before the start of the qualifying tournament (for the World Cup),” Shabazz said. “It provides the ideal dress-rehearsal for the first leg of qualifiers. We welcome it with open arms. It gives us the opportunity to see what progress have been made since the Panama games, and what adjustments we’ll need to make.”
The CONCACAF qualifiers will begin in May and T&T will be hosting one of five qualifying groups —Group C — which comprises Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts/Nevis and the United States Virgin Islands. With regards to any fitness concerns, Shabazz said, “We have a couple people coming off injuries, (but) Rhea Belgrave will be out (as she’s) still recovering from a hamstring.
“Karyn Forbes is not yet 100 (per cent), Janine Francois now coming back from injury. We expect to use them in the tournament but try not to depend too heavily on them,” added the T&T women’s coach.
“It’s an opportunity to measure work and progress, and to try to replicate some of the things we’ll want to do in the (forthcoming) qualifiers,” he ended.