TRINIDAD AND Tobago Under-17 women football team coach Stephan De Four is looking ahead to the CONCACAF Final Round qualifiers in Guatemala from May 2-13.
Trinidad and Tobago and Guatemala are among the eight teams in the qualifiers, along with Canada, Mexico, the United States, Panama, Jamaica and the Bahamas.
Three teams — the finalists and the third-placed team, will each earn spots in this year’s FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup in Azerbaijan.
De Four said, “it’s going to be very tough competition. The key factor here is preparation.
“At the youth level, any team can win, it’s not like the ‘seniors’ level where you expect the (teams like) USA and Canada to win,” he continued. “The last Under-17 World Cup showed you that. Three Asian teams came and were the top teams in the World Cup.
“We think once we have very good preparation, we think we have a very good chance of qualifying,” he added. Trinidad and Tobago topped the CFU Final Round group in Jamaica last November, winning all their three games — against Guyana (8-0), the Bahamas (3-0) and the hosts (1-0).
“I think these girls showed a lot of character,” said De Four. “Where we played was very tough, much more than people would think. The girls all got together and we did a lot of mental preparation. So we were in a very hostile environment.
He continued, “in the last game (against Jamaica), the girls showed character and what they are capable of. I thought they exemplified themselves in that tournament.”
Asked about the team’s preparations for the CONCACAF leg, De Four said, “we have about six players who are also playing with the Under-20s, that’s going to Cuba (for the CFU Final Round from January 7-11).
“We have been giving that group a chance to prepare themselves for that qualification. As soon as they come back, we would start our preparations in terms of our qualification process.”
De Four continued, “we have about five overseas-based players to bring in to the team and it’s going to help strengthen the team. The team is growing from strength to strength.
“Some of the players that played (in Jamaica) might not be on the squad that’s going to be (in Guatemala). That’s how tough it’s going to get.”