Granted all visa and passport requirements are sorted, this country’s senior women’s team will depart for Dallas, Texas, on Saturday, where they will settle in ahead of the US-hosted Concacaf Women’s Championship, which starts in just over two weeks’ time.
Contacted yesterday, T&T Football Association (TTFA) general secretary Sheldon Phillips confirmed this and added that the association is currently working on three warm-up matches, which will likely include local professional women’s teams. He said the identities of the three teams will be made public upon the team’s departure.
They will all be crucial for the T&T players, who evidently faced little competition when they claimed the inaugural CFU Women’s Caribbean Cup, hosted on home soil in August.
T&T won all four matches, including the final (1-0 over Jamaica) scoring 22 goals without conceding. After the final, head coach Randy Waldrum admitted that the hardest part was yet to come as T&T faces the confederation’s powerhouses in an effort to qualify for its first ever Fifa Women’s World Cup. Nevertheless, there have been claims by many, including the coach that this country has been stands at having its best chance of qualifying in recent time and for the forseeable future.
T&T’s cause has been aided by the fact that Canada will host the World Cup and, therefore will not be required to go through the Concacaf qualifying tournament.
At the championship, T&T will open against the world’s highest ranked women’s team in USA on October 15, then Haiti (October 17) and Guatemala (October 19), in the other group stage matches. USA qualified for the final round directly, while Guatemala and Haiti came through the Central America and Caribbean qualifying, respectively.
Despite having no shortage of quality up front, Waldrum’s attack will be further boosted by the inclusion of one of the most active and highest rated national players, Ahkeela Darcel Mollon, who returned home from Sweden, on Tuesday night. She is set to join other attacking talents in Kennya Cordner, Mariah Shade, Tasha St Louis and captain Maylee Attin-Johnson.
Mollon was permitted to leave her club, Kvarnsvedens IK, which sits third in Sweden’s second tier with three matches remaining. She, however, was allowed to leave as the club’s hierarchy admitted it stood little chance of promotion to the top division, needing eight points, while hoping for results in other matches to go its way.
This season alone, the 29-year-old forward scored 10 goals, recorded seven assists and earned 13 individual MVP titles.
From the Concacaf Championship, three teams will qualify directly for the World Cup, while the fourth-best team will enter a play-off against Ecuador, which placed third at the South America qualifying tournament, recently.
The top two teams in each group will move into the semifinals, with the winners meeting in the final and the losers in a third-place playoff. The winner of the playoff, therefore, will also qualify directly to the World Cup, while the loser will play Ecuador for the last chance to qualify.
Group B at the Concacaf Championship includes Costa Rica (Central America qualifying tournament winner), Jamaica (CFU runner-up), Martinique (CFU fouth place) and Mexico another automatic qualifier.
Schedule: T&T Concacaf Championship schedule
USA v T&T, Sporting Park, Kansas City, Kansas
Haiti v T&T, Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Illinois
T&T v Guatemala, RFK Stadium, Washington DC