T&T’s Under-20 women’s football team will meet Jamaica’s under-20 team from 6:30pm today at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, in the first of two friendly matches between the Caribbean rivals. The second match happens on Saturday at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium from 4pm and will cap the TTFA’s contribution to the recognition of CONCACAF’s Women’s Football Day celebration, which will also include the NLCB Elite Youth Development Program Girl’s Under-14 tournament at 9am.
T&T and Jamaica are looking ahead to the CONCACAF women’s tournament in January, for which T&T has qualified automatically as hosts while Jamaica hopes to be one of two remaining teams along with St Kitts and Nevis, Haiti and Dominican Republic progressing from the final Caribbean qualification round which takes place from November 22-26 in St Kitts and Nevis.
Head coach of the T&T team, Jamaal Shabazz, says that the matches against Jamaica are ideal for his unit which he says is not where it needs to be in preparation but can get an accurate measure by taking on their Caribbean rivals.
Shabazz said, “Jamaica are in an advanced stage of their preparation for their final CFU qualifying round to qualify for the CONCACAF round in January. We thought it would be a good opportunity to test the work that we have been doing, and these two games would provide an interesting measurement to see where we are at right now.”
Shabazz took over the team after the sudden departure of Carolina Morace and her staff in July, seven months after being appointed. Since then he oversaw the Under 17 team which failed to move on from the Caribbean round in their quest to qualify the Uruguay 2018 World Cup after a 3-1 loss to Jamaica and two draws against Bermuda and Grenada at their Caribbean tournament in Haiti last month.
Meanwhile, T&T forward Laurelle Theodore admitted that the transition from one coach to another has been difficult but is confident that she and her team-mates have adapted well to Shabazz’s coaching and are ready to put on a worthwhile display for the T&T public.
Speaking to Guardian Media Sports, Theodore said, “Mentally it was a very rough transition but the girls have already gotten accustomed to the new coach and the team will progress under the circumstances because we really want to make Trinidad and Tobago proud. The girls are a hard working group of girls, sure to work for each other. We play a very beautiful and solid game which is sure to get the crowd involved.”