Coming off its first loss in the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifiers on Sunday, T&T women's footballers will look to bounce back against a tough opponent in the Dominican Republic on Tuesday at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Balmain, Couva from 5 pm.
It will not be an easy task against the only other unbeaten team in Group A but the Stephen De Four-coached national team has no plans to give up without a fight.
"We are going to come out our hardest and fight them. We are not going to go there and lay down, we are going to finish the tournament strong," said De Four in the post-match conference following T&T's 4-1 defeat to St Kitts and Nevis on Sunday at the Couva venue.
"It's not the result we wanted. We started the game very slow. We got caught with some easy goals at the beginning of the game. When you go three goals down quickly, it's very difficult to get out of it."
The national team went down three goals in the first half. The second half saw a much improved defensive play from the host team, who was able to pull a goal back thanks to Dennicia Prince but leading player for St Kitts and Nevis, Phoenitia Browne sealed the deal with her third item of the match. The other goal was scored by Ellie Stokes.
"St Kitts played a very good game. The striker on top was a very good player she held up the ball well. We just did not start as fast as I wanted them to start at the beginning of the game and that basically cost us the game," said De Four.
"Our second half was a much better showing. We came out with a little more energy which we didn't have in the first half. They took the game to St Kitts in the second half.
"This is one game one this is football it happens. We can't stop and we are not going to stop are going to keep this programme moving."
De Four will be looking to his players, who are being led by captain Karyn Forbes, to carry-over this level of play into their match and execute the game-plan this afternoon from the kick-off.
They are all fully aware of the adjustments that must be made so as not to suffer a similar fate against the previous leader of the group, who slipped to the second spot on goal-difference four compared to the new head of the five-team table, St Kitts and Nevis' eight. Both teams are on seven-points.
T&T, who is currently third place in the standings with six points, is still in with a chance to seal one of three regional qualifying spots for CONCACAF but there must be an improvement on both ends of the field.
"I think we have a good resilient team here, the mix with the seniors and younger players," said De Four. "We're going to come out and finish the tournament strong. Never let up!"
St Kitts and Nevis vs Antigua and Barbuda, 2.30 pm
T&T vs Dominican Republic, 5 pm
Place Team P W D L GF GA GD Pts
1 St Kitts/Nevis 3 2 1 0 10 2 8 7
2 Dom Republic 3 2 1 0 4 0 4 7
3 T&T 3 2 0 1 9 4 5 6
4 Antigua/Barbuda 3 1 0 2 2 8 -6 3
5 Aruba 4 0 0 4 2 13 -11 0
De Four promises T&T fight in elimination match
By Joel Bailey (Newsday).
Concacaf Women Olympic Qualifying Championship
STEPHAN DE FOUR, coach of the T&T women football team, promises that his squad will put up a fight against the Dominican Republic today, in their final match of the Concacaf Women Olympic Qualifying Championship Caribbean Zone Group A.
T&T were spanked 4-1 by St Kitts/Nevis, on Sunday, in the latter game of a double-header, at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva. Antigua/Barbuda pipped Aruba 2-1 in the earlier meeting.
St Kitts/Nevis, who lead the group with seven points (and a goal difference of plus-eight) will meet Antigua/Barbuda (fourth placed with three points) in the first of back-to-back games at Couva today, from 2.30 pm, with TT (six points) opposing the Dominican Republic (seven points) from 5 pm.
A St Kitts/Nevis victory will guarantee them top spot in Group A and a place in the 2020 Concacaf Women Olympic Qualifying Championship (venue and dates are yet to be determined).
T&T will have to beat the Dominican Republic and hope that St Kitts/Nevis fail to defeat Antigua/Barbuda in order to finish first in this group.
In Sunday’s match, St Kitts/Nevis broke the deadlock in the sixth minute courtesy Ellie Stokes, who collected a pass from midfield, held off her marker and slotted a right-footed shot to the right of goalkeeper Kimika Forbes.
Centre forward Phoenitia Browne extended the lead in the 13th, with a penalty to the left of Forbes after a handle-ball infringement.
Ten minutes later, Browne netted St Kitts/Nevis’ third, with an opportunistic strike from the left which went in, via the body of Forbes.
Dennesia Prince pulled one back for T&T in the 59th, with a right-footed strike, from the edge of the penalty box, which rebounded off the bar and landed over the goalline.
But Browne ensured that there was no way back for the hosts when she completed her hat-trick in the 84th, after chipping a right-footed effort over the advancing Forbes.
Looking ahead to today’s match against the Dominican Republic, De Four said, “We’re going to come out and fight it. We’re not going to just lay down.”
During the post-game media conference on Sunday, De Four said, “We have a good resilient group. I told them we’re finishing the tournament strong.”
Asked what will be next for the team if they fail to progress today, De Four responded, “This is a building phase for us. We just have to keep getting players involved, get more games and keep the players together.”
De Four lamented the lack of intensity by the T&T team during the early stages of Sunday’s match.
“It’s not the result we wanted,” said De Four, who was appointed T&T women coach in June. “We started the game very slow.
“It’s a team that’s rebuilding so we’re trying to give every player a chance to play,” he added. “We have a lot of youngsters in the team, mixed with senior players. We got caught with some easy goals in the beginning and, to go three goals down that easily, it’s very difficult to get out of it.”
T&T defeated Aruba in their first match 3-0 last Monday and Antigua/Barbuda 5-0 on Wednesday.
Deborah Baclawski, the St Kitts/Nevis coach, commented, “I’m very proud of the team for their discipline. We knew that T&T would be a tough opponent. We watched their first two games and we knew that they would bring everything to us. I’m proud of our team for their organisation and perseverance.”
Concerning today’s contest against Antigua/Barbuda, Baclawski said, “I have to keep reminding them that they have a game (today). We have to make sure that we remain focused.”