Trinidad and Tobago’s Senior Women’s team arrived in Merida City, Venezuela on Thursday and will face off with Nicaragua on Saturday in their opening match of the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games.
The team, led by head coach Jamaal Shabazz arrived in Merida late on Thursday on a Military plane from Caracas made available y the Venezuelan Government according to Shabazz.
The CAC Women's football tournament was originally cancelled after CONCACAF withdrew its support because of an issue regarding improper facilities in Puerto Rico . The tournament was subsequently switched to Venezuela where four men's teams and six women's teams will do battle.
Commenting on the tournament Shabazz said :"It was a huge challenge in getting our Women's team to attend this tournament and I must thank the TTFF and the TTOC for their tremendous effort in bringing off this miracle.
"Four days ago this tournament was off and with the efforts of the TTFF and the TTOC we are now in Venezuela getting ready to do battle against the best teams in Central America. Our players are very happy and excited for this opportunity.
Influential midfielder Tasha St. Louis is expected to return to international football after a year and a half absence due to pregnancy, while Swedish based winger Ahkeela Mollon is also in the line up.
"We have an interesting blend of players in what I would call a very young team, stated Shabazz.
“None of our players are over 25 years but still when you look at the amount of tournaments players like Nadia James, Maylee Johnson, Mollon, Ayana Russell and Kennya Cordner have played, it shows that there is quite a bit of experience within this team.”
The six-team tournament for the Women will see Puerto Rico, Haiti and T&T from the Caribbean join Central Americans Guatemala and Nicaragua along with hosts Venezuela in a round robin tournament.
"This means that we will be getting 5 quality matches and we can tweak our squad to suit, it’s an ideal warm up for our Gold Cup Tournament in October, added Shabazz.
Shabazz revealed that in form Tobago striker Candace Edwards will start up front alongside English-based striker Karissa Rodney opting to rest skipper Maylee Johnson to allow her more time to recover from a slight knock she took in practice on the eve of the team's departure.
The rest of the starting team will see a four player midfield with the speedy Mollon and Cordner on the flanks with James and St. Louis in the middle. The back four is expected to be marshaled by Ayana Russell and Anastacia Prescott at central defence with Tiana Bateau and Karyn Forbes at wingbacks with Kimika Forbes in goal.
The T&T /Nicaragua clash kicks off at 5pm Venezuela time. T&T will play Venezuela on Monday, Puerto Rico on Wednesday, Guatemala on Friday and Haiti on Sunday.
NB - The Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation will not be sending the men’s Olympic team to participate at the games.