Brought in primarily to prepare the Under-17 players who will represent Trinidad and Tobago as hosts of the 2010 FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup, 57-year-old Norwegian coach Even Pellerud will also work with T&T’s senior women footballers after seeing their potential to do well at the upcoming Central American & Caribbean (CAC) Games and the 2010 CONCACAF The CONCACAF Gold Cup.
This was disclosed by senior national coach Jamaal Shabazz on Friday night after Trinidad and Tobago stopped a strong Guyanese team 3-0 on a Kenyya ’Ya Ya’ Cordner hat-trick at Marvin Lee Stadium, Macoya and booked their CAC spot by winning Group F of the Caribbean Zone CONCACAF Gold Cup Qualifiers.
And having qualified for the CAC Games, which will be held in Puerto Rico from July 17- August 1, Shabazz said the tournament will be used to prepare the Soca Princesses for the Gold Cup, which will be played in Mexico in late October.
The CONCACAF Gold Cup is the region’s top competition and serves as a qualifier for the Germany 2011 Women’s World Cup.
Pellerud has a high standing among women football coaches, having coached Norway’s national senior women’s team from 1989-1996, during which time he led them to a World Cup gold medal (1995), silver (1991) and Olympic bronze in 1996.
He also coached the Canadian senior women’s team from 1999-2008 and led them to a best-ever fourth place at the 2003 Women’s World Cup.
With most of the T&T squad on scholarship in the United States, Shabazz was only able to get in three days’ training prior to winning Group F of the Gold Cup qualifiers and so fitness was an issue. Now, the Soca Princesses will train for six sessions per week over the next eight weeks to attain peak fitness.
Shabazz believes that playing against Central American opposition at the CAC Games will also sharpen his girls before the Gold Cup.
’We have invited Mr Pellerud to come in and work with us and he is now getting to know the girls,’ Shabazz said. ’I think that at the moment we are a good distance away from the Gold Cup, and again fitness is the key, and we will work on that the next six weeks.
But with the intensity that Mr Pellerud brings to the programme, and the experience he brings as a technician, we are very confident we will at least reach the second round of the Gold Cup.’
’I liked what I saw. The team has many good players,’ Pellerud said after watching the senior Soca Princesses whip St Lucia (6-1), Barbados (5-0) and Guyana (3-0) last week.
’With some more time together, this could easily become a CONCACAF contender, but needs to sharpen up. One, fitness level and, two, team shape and discipline.’
With names like Rodrigues, De Souza, Castello, El-Masri, Gonzales, Savona, Carvalhal, Fransique, and Heydorn, the Soca Princesses met a well-organised Guyanese team, unlike any they faced before, one comprised primarily of North American-based players of Guyanese ancestry.
But using their speed advantage, Trinidad and Tobago’s Ahkeela Mollon and Cordner were able to blow by their stoutly-built opponents with ease.
After several close tries, Cordner finally got the breakthrough in the 14th minute, taking a through ball from central midfielder Avanelle Issac and circumventing goalkeeper Tenya Francique to score in an open net.
Six minutes later, the home team were leading 2-0 when Cordner put in a rebound which came her way after Issac’s initial pass bounced off overlapping left-midfielder Affiyah Matthias.
Mollon later stretched the Guyanese defence several times before Cordner took Mollon’s ball over the top in the 65th and scored with a low shot. Shabazz commended the Guyanese for playing the full 90 minutes and bringing the best out of his players.
’The team did most of what we wanted tonight,’ Shabazz said after the match.’We saw a more polished Ahkeela Mollon. We see she has learnt a lot from her stint in the United States, but she still has a way to go to becoming that accomplished player.
Kennya Cordner is proving that she is coming up and Arin King is a very good utility player coming into the programme, and will be someone very useful going forward.’