AMID several pre-tournament challenges, the Trinidad and Tobago women’s football team is ready to deliver a fearless showing in their opening Concacaf W Championship clash against reigning Olympic champions Canada on Tuesday.
The match kicks off at Estadio BBVA Bancomer in Mexico from 10pm (T&T time).
Kenwyne Jones, Women Warriors head coach, confirmed there were some hiccups in their preparations in Mexico over the past two weeks, which led to some minor injuries and delayed acclimatisation within the team.
However, Jones and captain Karyn Forbes, remain set on delivering a strong performance against Canada and will be brazenly gunning for three points in their Group B opener. “The conditions haven’t been the best. We’ve been training on fields that have been really hard. It contributed to some niggles and injuries. There was a water shortage or problem out here and it’s very humid.
“The amount of time we’ve been out here contributed to some of the injuries that have been happening. We are still going to put out a very good team against Canada and we will have a very good team against Costa Rica and Panama as well,” Jones said during Monday’s pre-match press conference.
T&T play Costa Rica on Friday (7pm) and Panama on Monday (7pm).
At the end of round-robin play, the top two teams from each group advance to the semifinals and in doing so, qualify directly for the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. The third-placed teams in each group will qualify for a 2023 World Cup intercontinental playoff. The T&T women played two warm up matches prior, winning 1-0 against University of Monterrey and losing the other 2-0 against top flight Mexican women’s club CF Monterrey.
Although there are injuries within the squad, Jones said the team’s medical staff have been working assiduously to ensure that those selected for the Canada clash are in good form.
He added, “For any team or player, these sort of challenges are ones to relish. It’s how you get to test yourself.
Use teams or players as measuring sticks for yourself and to see how good you can stand a test and what you might need to do to get better. “Football is won on the day and anything can happen. And we’re well prepared to go and stand up to the challenge. It also brings out different elements of character building.”
Jones said players not selected for Tuesday’s opener will have an extra day or two to recover and should be available for the remainder of the tournament.
Similarly, Forbes rued the unexpected hiccups but is focused on the task at hand. Canada are clear favourites and Forbes and Jones have been working overtime to keep the team spirit high.
Forbes said, “We’re going to respect the opponent. It will be 11 versus 11 and we’re here to compete. The girls understand what is at stake. We also understand the magnitude of this competition.
“The team’s mood has been good, it’s for us to keep focused. This competition, and what we want to achieve is not going to be easy. It’s for us to continue to remind each other. Without us being there for each other, we won’t be able to compete.
“One of the things that I’m doing right now is driving that mantra into the girls and helping them to understand that we need to work together, have the right attitude and right mood. So whatever we have going on off the field could be transferred on the field.”
Midfielder Forbes, defenders Rhea Belgrave, Liana Hinds and Lauren Hutchinson, alongside goalkeeper Kimika Forbes are the most experienced players on the team. The quintet was part of this same qualification process in 2014, when T&T missed out on a World Cup spot after losing to Ecuador 1-0 in a sold out crowd at Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo.
Since then, many have left the national set up, including in-form Turkish Super League striker Kennya Cordner, and several local and foreign-based youngsters have joined the team. Forbes however, believes the new talents, combined with their experience, do possess a winnig formuala.
“We want to be able to use some of the senior players to help the other players get caught up with what we’re going to expect. It’s a collective effort. The new players bring a different element to the team. Some of what I saw thus far could be troubling for teams. I’m very excited to see them tomorrow (Tuesday).”
Goalkeepers - Kimika Forbes. Klil Keshwar, Tenesha Palmer
Defenders - Liana Hinds, Rhea Belgrave, Victoria Swift, Chelsi Jadoo, Shaunalee Govia, Shadi Cecily Stoute, Lauryn Hutchinson
Midfielders - Amaya Ellis, Asha James, Chelcy Ralph, Karyn Forbes (captain), Kedie Johnson, Sarah De Gannes, Tori Paul
Forwards - Maya Matouk, Maria-Frances Serrant, Raenah Campbell, Jolie St Louis, Cayla McFarlane, Brianna Austin
Kenwyne Jones (coach), Carlos Edwards (assistant coach), James Baird (goalkeeper coach), Joanne Daniel (manager), Anyl Gopeesingh (doctor), Rejan Chin (rehab specialist), Terry Johnson-Jeremiah (equipment manager), Atiba Downes (strength and conditioning coach), Andre Sooklal (Mmedia officer/video analyst), Alexandria Olton (sport psychologist), Dean Tuitt (trainer), Kylla Charles (massage therapist).
SOURCE: T&T Newsday