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Shabazz to experiment at CAC Games.
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JAMAAL Shabazz, Trinidad and Tobago women’s football team coach, has hailed the maturity of the squad during their campaign, in Group C of the 2018 CONCACAF Women’s Championship Qualification Caribbean Zone phase.

T&T topped Group C, ahead of St Kitts/Nevis, on a better goal difference (plus-26 to St Kitts/Nevis’ plus-18), after both teams ended with 10 points from four games. Dominica were third with four points, followed by the US Virgin Islands (three) and Grenada (one).

The respective group winners – T&T, Cuba (Group A), Jamaica (Group B), Antigua/Barbuda (Group D) and Bermuda (Group E), will advance to the Caribbean Zone Final Round, from August 25 to September 2, at a venue to be determined.

The T&T women’s team will be participating in the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in Baranquilla, Colombia from July 19-30. T&T have been drawn in Group B, alongside Haiti, Mexico and Nicaragua, with hosts Colombia, Costa Rica, Jamaica and Venezuela listed in Group A.

Shabazz, in a post-game media conference on Sunday, after the T&T team’s 13-0 demolition of Grenada at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, commented, “The next tournament is the CAC Games.”

He continued, “We have about five or six players to bring in to the squad to compete for places. We’re going to re-invite some players locally. The CAC Games provides tougher opposition and it will be just the kind of exposure we need before the Caribbean Finals in August.”

Shabazz acknowledged that the CAC Games “(is) a chance to try and experiment with what can work at that level and what wouldn’t work. These games (do) not qualify us for anything so it’s no real pressure for us.”

However, he pointed out, “I’ve heard that there is a new policy by the Government about funding, when you (earn) a medal. Finance is an important part. So, if we get a medal, that will be a good incentive for the country, and for us going into the Final Round.”

Reflecting on the team’s growth, Shabazz said, “I think they’re maturing. I think we have players like Karyn Forbes who is emerging as a future leader in the team (as well as defender) Jenelle Cunningham. This is a plus for us.”

T&T needed to win Sunday’s game by six clear goals to top the group and advance to the Final Round.

Shabazz admitted that he was more nervous than the players, after watching St Kitts/Nevis momentarily take top spot after spanking the USVI 7-0 in the earlier match on Sunday.

“I was more nervous than them,” said Shabazz. “(On Saturday) night, listening to the team talk in a meeting, they were all very confident. They have a deep desire to go forward and they demonstrated that. I was trying to call them off when it was 10 goals and they said ‘no, let’s play’. And this is what they did.”

Forbes, right-sided utility player Patrice Superville and left-winger Summer Arjoon were replaced in the starting eleven by Naomie Guerra, Aaliyah Prince (who netted a hat-trick) and Kedie Johnson.

Shabazz admitted that he took the opportunity to rest Forbes and a few players who were carrying minor injuries.

“Everybody except the reserve goalkeeper (Nicolette Craig) got a chance to play,” he said. “At this stage, we accomplished what we set out to do, to widen the pool and start to re-establish ourselves as a dominant team in Caribbean football.”

Asked about the performance of the 17-year-old Prince, the youngest member of the team, Shabazz replied, “She played, in the first half, in a position she didn’t like (on the right flank) but we needed her to do that. She responded well and she’s fitted in very well with the seniors.”

The T&T coach continued, “She’s one player we see has a bright future. Her attitude is a good one, she listens to the older players and this is one (player) we really have to keep an eye on.”

About the team itself, the former Guyana and T&T men’s coach remarked, “There are areas that we showed strength in and there are areas that we need to bring into the team. We’re still four or five players short of a team that we can say ‘we can get there’. (Utility player) Liana Hinds, for instance, can make a big difference.

“We have two players that we’re working on. As soon as we finalise the paperwork, I think they’ll be a big plus for this team,” he added.

RELATED NEWS

Shabazz: The players believed.
By Walter Alibey (Guardian).


T&T’s qualification for the final round of the Concacaf Caribbean Women Qualifiers was due mainly to the belief of the women, Jamaal Shabazz, the country’s women’s coach said on Sunday night after his charges crushed Grenada 13-0 to win Group C of the playoff on goal difference.

Needing to win by six clear goals, the T&T coach made a few changes to his team, replacing instrumental defensive midfielder Karyn Forbes with Naomie Guerra and picking Kedie Johnson and Aaliyah Prince ahead of talented wingers Summer Arjoon and Patrice Superville.

It, however, did not prevent the dominant display by the hosts, scoring six goals in the first half and seven in the second.

Shabazz said the girls never doubted themselves, even though there were things in the media he thought would have affected them. According to Shabazz, the girls had a deep desire to win the group and on Sunday night they displayed just that.

“At this stage, I think we accomplished what we had set about to, which was to widen the pool and then start to re-establish ourselves as a dominant team in the Caribbean,” he said.

The team will now turn its attention to the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games from July 19 — August 3 in Colombia, which the coach said will be used as preparation for the final Concacaf Caribbean World Cup Qualifiers.

“The CAC Games provides tougher opposition and it will be just the kind of opposition we need before the Caribbean final in August.”

Apart from the CAC Games, the T&T women could also be set to take on their Venezuelan counterparts in two week’s time, following a request by the South Americans.

Shabazz told the media at a post-match press conference after his team’s demolition of Grenada in Couva, that he will make all attempts to secure the friendly with the Venezuelans, and will also try to get another international friendly game before the end of July.

A thorough assessment of the knocks the players picked up in the tournament will be done soon before the team returns to training. Intense sessions are expected indicated Shabazz, that will require players to be available to train four to five days a week.

Shabazz believes his team is currently missing about four to five top players to be ready for the final qualifiers. As such he will invite some local and international players to join the team.

The Morvant Caledonia United coach also said he is currently in the process of organising the paperwork for two surprise players that will be a tremendous boost to his team.