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Trinidad and Tobago Women's Head Coach James Thomas and midfielder Maylee Attin-Johnson during a training session at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on Wednesday, September 15th 2021.

FORMER captain Maylee Attin-Johnson and Lauryn Hutchinson are back in training with the Trinidad and Tobago women’s football team. Attin-Johnson, 35, and Hutchinson, 30, were involved in a training session at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, on Wednesday.

Both players were part of the squad which agonisingly missed out on qualification for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Speaking to the media during training, Attin-Johnson said, “It is an exciting feeling. I understand that representing my country is not a birthright. It is an honour and a privilege and I am just here to treat it as such.

“It is exciting to don the colours again and I am just looking forward to the games.”

Attin-Johnson said new coach James Thomas is part of the reason she has made herself available. “I think coach James came in with no preconceived notion of me and he did not put me on a black list, so I am here.”

Thomas, who is from Wales, was hired in April.

Attin-Johnson said some of the senior players have been in contact with each other and decided to return. “We spoke with each other. We understand that this is it. For us it is our last hurrah and if we come together with our experience, our knowledge and even with the talent that we can bring to the squad (we can succeed). We knew we had to come back and set a foundation, set a standard for the younger ones and just to help with the programme being successful again.”

Attin-Johnson hinted that striker Kennya Cordner may return also.

Hutchinson, asked how it feels to be back, said, “Blessed. It has been a long time and this will be my 11th year with the national team, so it is great to be home.”

Some motivation from her trainer encouraged Hutchinson to return to football.

“In February, it’s funny, I had a new trainer and I told him that I was retired and he told me ‘You are not retired.’ I laughed at him of course because I had not trained in three years…it is a blessing to be back and I have been back in training for about eight weeks now.”

The experienced pair have been away from the national set-up for years but are expected to add value to the team preparing for the 2021 Concacaf Women’s Championship qualifiers, which kick off in November. The Concacaf Championship qualifiers will be the start of the qualification process for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

In the 2021 Concacaf Women’s Qualifiers, TT were drawn in Group F alongside Guyana, Nicaragua, Dominica and Turks and Caicos Islands.

Thirty teams were drawn into six groups of five. Each team will play two home and two away matches in a single round-robin format. The six group winners will advance to the 2022 Concacaf Women’s Championship, along with USA and Canada. The US and Canada, the top two ranked Concacaf teams, advanced automatically to the 2022 tournament.

The 2022 Women’s Championship will include two groups of four. The top two finishers in each group will advance automatically to the World Cup.

The third-place finishers in each group will qualify for the inter-confederation playoffs for a final chance of qualifying. The two Concacaf teams will be among ten teams aiming for a top-three finish to advance to the World Cup.

SOURCE: T&T Newsday