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Thu, Aug

T&T U-17 Women eager to test Panama away from home
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The Trinidad and Tobago Women’s Under 17 Team will be looking to make the most of their upcoming two-match one-week tour of Panama which will see them undergo their first overseas training camp ahead of upcoming CONCACAF competitions.

T&T are through to the The Final Championship which will kick off with a group stage, as one of the top ranked 16 participating teams, based on the Concacaf Women’s Under-17 Ranking as of July 2018. These teams will be sorted into four groups (E, F, G and H). After round-robin play, the top three finishers in each of the groups will join the winners of Groups A, B, C and D (from the qualifiers) in the round of 16.

The 16 teams participating in the group stage of the Final Championship are (in alphabetical order): Bermuda, Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico, Trinidad & Tobago and United States.

Seattle-based attacking midfielder Annika Daniel spoke about the upcoming trip, describing it as the ideal opportunity for the team to gain some match practice away from home.

“I’m very excited for it and I think it will help a lot with our preparations for the tournament in the next few months,” Daniel told TTFA Media.

“Panama is going to be a challenge but this is something we have to overcome and it’s just about getting more practice games to try out the things we have been working on in practice with more pressure. It’s a safe way to test the way we play.”

Daniel was a member of the T&T Under 15 Team at the CONCACAF U-15 Championship in 2016. She opened the scoring in T&T’s lone victory which was a 4-0 shut out of Dominican Republic.

She touched on the benefits of the team going on its first overseas trip.

“I am excited because I like traveling. I would like to play in my home country but going to Panama is a great opportunity to expand the way I think and experience a different culture. This is very important as traveling together helps a team bond even more so than staying in camp together because when you are in a foreign country you have to stick together and learn together. It’s important for the team to connect there.

“Although they couldn’t come here, it’s good that we are going. It’s an honour to represent my country and I feel very privileged to be playing with these girls and to say I’ve represented my country at such a young age. It’s the most exciting thing for me.

Jessica Harragin of Queen’s Park Women’s team was also elated with the news of the upcoming overseas camp.

“Well I think playing any team is a good opportunity for us and getting to play a team like Panama is even better. Its good to play in front of our crowd but I also think it’s also a good opportunity to showcase ourselves away from home and show how good we are as a team. It is one thing to play on your home soil but is a totally different thing to get used to playing in conditions away from home.

“The whole team is really looking forward it because we had some disappointments with the games being cancelled here but now we have a trip with matches that is certain and it’s a great opportunity for us to go there for this training camp.

“This is good news for us be­cause the girls were look­ing for­ward to these two match­es and were no­tably dis­ap­point­ed up­on re­ceiv­ing the news that they were can­celled. But this lat­est news has lift­ed their spir­its and mood again, and we are now look­ing for­ward to this trip which will be ex­treme­ly valu­able to our prepa­ra­tions at this time,” De­four said.

TTFA pres­i­dent David John-Williams was al­so de­light­ed with the new arrange­ment, say­ing, “Some­times things work out in such a way that it turns out bet­ter in the long run. We knew these match­es for the Un­der-17 Women’s team were nec­es­sary be­cause we want­ed to en­sure, that just like the boys, they were al­lowed to get some in­ter­na­tion­al match prac­tice. And when we re­ceived word from both Cu­ra­cao and Pana­ma that nei­ther could make it, we had to pur­sue an­oth­er av­enue.

“We fol­lowed through with the dis­cus­sions and we are pleased to say that our women U-17 team will be off to Pana­ma next week for three match­es to help with their prepa­ra­tions.”

The knockout stage of the CONCACAF competition – round of 16, quarterfinals, semifinals and final – will be played in its entirety in a single match elimination format, with the finalists and third place finisher automatically qualifying for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2020.

T&T has its sights on advancing to that knockout stage. Head Coach Stefan Defour added, “Our ambition is of course to go all the way. We have these games which be valuable to the preparations and then we head into competition where our next aim will be to make it through to the knockout phase and take it from there. It’s all a step by step process,”

The T&T team will depart for Panama City on Tuesday. The matches versus Panama are carded for Thursday  and Sunday at the Luis Ernesto stadium.