CFU finals, Concacaf spot up for grabs

T&T Under-20 Women Soca Warriors will come up against host Haiti in the first match of a semifinal double-header when the Caribbean Football Union U-20 Women’s Championship continues at the Sylvio Cator Stadium, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, from 4 pm.

This will be followed by a clash between defending CFU champions Jamaica and Puerto Rico in the second semifinal, from which the winner will advance to Friday’s final and secure two of the three places to the Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship to be held in Honduras, December 3-13.

On Monday night in its final round-robin Pool B match, the T&T U-20 women came from 2-0 down to earn a 2-2 draw with Jamaica.

With the drawn result, Jamaica ended as group winner with seven points from its three matches, two more than T&T while Curacao, which edged St Vincent and the Grenadines, 1-0 in the first match on Monday, was third with three points.

Prior to its final match, T&T was already certain of a semifinal spot as St Vincent and the Grenadines, which started the day on one point and needed a win over Curacao, fell 1-0.

The T&T and Jamaica clash began with a high tempo as both teams showed attacking intent from the opening whistle. 

Jamaica had the better of the match in the early minutes when Khadija Shaw missed a sitter.

The U-20 Women Soca Warriors then found their rhythm at the midway point as they created several chances, but failed to make them count.

The young Reggae Girlz eventually opened the scoring through Shaw in the 34th minute with a shot from just inside the 18-yard box. Five minutes later, Jamaica doubled its advantage when Rena Gordon scored for a 2-0 half-time lead.

The second half went in another direction as a rejuvenated Rene Mike-captained T&T squad returned to grab two goals, which changed the course of the match.

First, Celeste Thomas cut the lead in half in the 64th minute and although Jamaica created more chances to put the game away, they missed, and lost opportunities would comeback to haunt them when Chevonne John struck the equaliser in the 76th minute for a 2-2 scoreline.    

With ten minutes left in the match, T&T suffered a blow when Thomas was sent off for a second bookable offence, however the T&T women held on for the draw, and had to settle for second spot in the pool and a clash with the Haitians who crushed Bermuda 8-0 in their final match on Sunday to qualify after losing their opener to Puerto Rico, 3-1.

Commenting on the match, Spence said it was another giant performance by the T&T team which showed a lot of character to come from two goals down.

He said, “We corrected a minor tactic at the half-time interval and the girls gave everything and went for the win, but Celeste Thomas got second yellow card and we had to change our tactics again to come away with the point.”

Spence noted that his team’s last competitive match before the tournament in Haiti coming against Dominica in the first round of CFU qualifiers in July came without any warm-up matches for a two-months period, so he was very proud of the class and character shown.

The T&T coach pointed out his team was still playing enjoyable and entertaining football as he keeps telling the players that “the spectators come out to be entertained so let’s show what we are made of.”

“Presently I cannot ask for more from them. Our plan is to make it to the final phase of the tournament unbeaten and so far we have done this and now we are onto our next objective which is to qualify for the Concacaf Championships.

With regards to the suspension of Thomas and what it means for his team going into the semifinal, Spence said, “Certainly some adjustment and shifting around will be done tactically to cope with her absence, but to cope we will.”


U-20 Women rally back to book semi-final spot
T&T Newsday Reports.

THE NATIONAL Under-20 women have advanced to the semi-final stage of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) championships in Haiti, following a 2-2 draw with rivals Jamaica in Haiti on Monday night.

The result allowed the “Junior Soca Princesses” to finish second behind the Jamaicans in Group B of the finals, thus booking a semi-final clash tonight against the hosts in Port Au Prince. 

Playing under lights at the Sylvio Cator Stadium in the Haitian capital, TT fell behind in the 34th minute, when Khadija Shaw struck from just inside the 18- yard area. 

Just fve minutes later, their problems doubled when Rena Gordon made it 2-0 for the “Reggae Girlz,” and Jamaica went in leading 2-0 at the half. 

However, the TT women, under the coaching of Jason Spence, lifted their game on the resumption and scored through Celeste Thomas in the 64th minute. The Jamaicans missed a couple of chances to restore their two-goal advantage, and that came back to haunt them when Chevonne John struck in the 76th, drawing TT level.

Even so, TT had to endure concerted pressure in the final ten minutes and stoppage time, as Thomas was sent off for a second bookable offence in the 80th minute, leaving them a player short. The 2-2 result pushed TT to five points and second place behind Jamaica, who topped the standings in group B with seven points. The TT U-20s had beaten Curacao 4-1 in their opening game on Friday last, before being held 1-1 by St Vincent and the Grenadines on Saturday. 

Meanwhile, the hosts Haiti trounced Bermuda 8-0 to top Group A. In tonight’s semi-finals, TT will face Haiti at 4 pm, while Jamaica will play Puerto Rico. 

Today’s winners will automatically advance to the CONCACAF finals, scheduled for December in Honduras. Should TT fail to defeat the Haitians, they would need to win the third-place playoff to qualify for Honduras as the third best team in the CFU. 

The TT starting XI against Jamaica: Nicolette Craig (GK), Shaunalee Govia, Renee Mike (capt), Sawsha Woznuk, Sheneika Paul, Celeste Thomas, Tsaianne Leander, Kedie Johnson, Chevonne John, Kelsey Henry and Naomie Guerra.