The Trinidad and Tobago women's football team play Puerto Rico twice in the space of five days in Concacaf women's Gold Cup qualifying, with the first of those two meetings kicking off from 7 pm at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo on Friday.
After their tussle on T&T soil, the two teams will meet at Estadio Juan Ramon Loubriel in Bayamon, Puerto Rico on Tuesday night. Both teams have played a game apiece in the League A qualifying group which also includes Mexico. Both T&T and Puerto Rico are without a point after falling to contrasting defeats to the Mexican team. On September 22, Mexico overturned a first-half deficit to get a 2-1 win over Puerto Rico at the famed Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. Four days later, Mexico turned up the heat as they scored all of their goals in the first half to run up a 6-0 scoreline against T&T in Pachuca. Puerto Rico are second in the group by virtue of a better goal difference.
Ahead of their effective home-and-away tie with Puerto Rico, T&T coach Richard Hood said his team are going into the matches with positive intent and they want to make home advantage count.
"It's critical that we get something out of this game. If not a victory, we certainly need to get something out of it," Hood told the media in a pre-match press briefing at the match venue on Thursday. "On the day, you don't know what you are going to get from the girls but hopefully we'll get a good performance and get the job done.
"We can expect a much more positive approach to the game and much more offensive play. I think going into the Mexico game the idea was to set up defensively and that really didn't work. Therefore, a lot of the preparation this time around has been based on offence."
With Mexico already stamping their dominance in the group with a maximum six points from two games, Hood says the focus is to ensure second spot doesn't escape T&T's grasp as they look to secure a historic Gold Cup spot.
"The girls are aware of the situation and they know if we get to the Gold Cup it can open up a lot of doors for local football and local footballers. We're very much intent on finishing second in this group and getting to the Gold Cup proper."
Hood believes attaining four points in the next two games could just about do the trick for T&T.
"I wouldn't say the Puerto Rico games are must-win games. A win and a draw would not be too bad. Certainly, they are the two most important games. We are approaching it as such, particularly our home game."
At the end of group play, the top teams in each of the three League A groups will qualify for the group stage of the 12-team 2024 Concacaf women’s Gold Cup. The three runners-up in the League A groups will play the three winners of the respective League B groups for a spot in the Gold Cup group stage.
As his team continues their journey, Hood is relying on his experienced players such as Victoria Swift, Asha James and captain Karyn Forbes to lead the way.
Karyn's sister and veteran goalkeeper Kimika Forbes misses out through disciplinary reasons according to Hood. French-based utility player Kedie Johnson misses out through injury and could be sidelined for a month.
SOURCE: T&T Newsday