T&T’s senior women’s team rose above a number of challenges including injuries, fatigue and a lack of preparedness to stand tall among the best in the confederation at the Concacaf Women’s Championship.
Void of injuries, Waldrum said he will have the team prepared to defeat Comnebol’s third placed overall finisher Ecuador to earn a place in next year’s World Cup. T&T will travel to the high-altitude South American nation for a November 8 away fixture, just over three weeks before the return fixture in T&T on December 2 at a stadium to be announced.
The “Women Soca Warriors” lost 4-2 to Mexico after conceding two goals in extra-time in the third place playoff, before host nation USA routed Costa Rica 6-0 in the final on Sunday.
Following the conclusion of the tournament, Waldrum spoke of his team’s struggles against Costa Rica and against Mexico, and expressed his belief that T&T’s women’s team is very much capable of defeating Ecuador over two legs to become the first Caribbean team to qualify for the Fifa Women’s World Cup.
“In light of the short time I’ve had, I’m really encouraged by the way the team has performed... But, there’s a lot of work to do and so I’m anxious and excited about this time I’m going to have going forward to get ready with Ecuador. And, I’m still saying, we’re going to qualify,” Waldrum said.
This year saw T&T secure its second best ever finish in the tournament. Formerly the Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup (2010 and before), T&T placed third in the inaugural edition in 1991. T&T also placed fourth in 1994 after a five-team round-robin.
T&T was impressive throughout the tournament, opening with a 1-0 loss to the USA (the best result by any team against the host in the tournament). The team secured a 1-0 win over Haiti and a 2-1 win over Guatemala to reach the semifinals against Group B winner, Costa Rica on Friday. But after a 1-1 draw after extra time, the Central American outfit triumphed 3-0 in a penalty shoot-out.
That, without the level and duration of preparation granted most of the other teams in the tournament, according to Waldrum.
“For the amount of time we had for our preparations and for everybody knows, (it’s) well documented...I’m really, really proud of this team,” he said.
“You know, we haven’t been healthy since we’ve been here. We’ve been without Ayanna Russell, without Janine Francois, we’ve been without Tasha St Louis, healthy, Baby (Karyn Forbes) just played a little bit (45 minutes) in the Costa Rica game (and) a little over a half today (68 minutes), she’s not completely healthy and those are really, really key players for us. So, having said that, for us to battle the way we have with basically a young squad and a makeshift line-up every game to plug holes, I’m really, really proud of the way these kids have battled,” the former national women’s U-17 coach said.
“We were right there. Penalty kicks against Costa Rica and honestly with 10 or 12 minutes left to go up 2-1 (against Mexico), you know, we should have been able to hold that lead and ride the game out,” Waldrum admitted.
“I’m proud of them. It leaves me good hope now that we (are) starting to get good support from the Ministry of Sport and the fans back home and the people of T&T, it gives me great hope now that the next week and a half, 10 or 12 days we have to prepare for Ecuador, that we will be quite ready for them. So, I’m just excited about it.”
The Ministry of Sport and the TTFA will host a media conference and welcome reception for the returning members of the Trinidad and Tobago senior women’s team (Soca Princesses) following the team’s arrival tonight at 7.40 on United Airlines via Houston.