WHILE TT Football Association (TTFA) normalisation committee chairman Robert Hadad rues the nation’s early exit from Concacaf’s Women’s Under-20 Championship in El Salvador, he remains optimistic the team can use this competition as a learning experience moving forward.
In their opening Group G fixture on Friday, T&T U20s were defeated 3-0 by the hosts and followed up with a 7-2 clobbering at the hands of St Kitts/Nevis on Sunday.
This result meant all hopes of advancing to the second round were quashed, with one game remaining, against group leaders Canada on Tuesday. This was the squad’s first official competition since the covid19 pandemic hit in March 2020.
St Kitts/Nevis were also the lowest-ranked of the 17 contesting teams.
“The loss against St Kitts and Nevis was difficult. It is not where we want to be and as we continue to work to remediate the association, we will work with Anton (Corneal) to ensure the necessary steps are implemented to move forward positively,” he said.
Corneal, a former TTFA technical director, was reappointed to this post, for a third time, in early February.
He returns to the national set-up to “provide strategic direction, oversight and management of the technical department, delivering advice across all aspects of the department as well as contributing to the communication and delivery of our football philosophy across all areas.
“He will also spearhead the coach education programme which will include the delivery of coaching courses and workshops,” said a TTFA statement on February 2.
Before his reinstatement, Corneal voiced his concern with the lacklustre approach to the women’s U20 team in November and slammed the lack of a squad, technical staff and competition.
In December, TTFA appointed Jason Spence as head coach of the national U17 and U20 women’s teams. Former national women’s players Dernelle Mascall and Desiree Sarjeant were appointed assistant coaches while ex-T&T goalkeeper Trevor Nottingham is the goalkeeping coach.
Since his appointment, Spence held several trial sessions throughout T&T searching for dormant and new talents. He then held an array of training sessions, after which he selected the national U20 team for the Concacaf Championships.
Against St Kitts/Nevis however, T&T were outplayed, with two players - Iyanla Bailey-Williams and Jahzara Claxton – scoring hat-tricks in a surprisingly one-sided affair.
T&T captain Maria-Frances Serrant and half-time substitute Shurella Mendez scored T&T’s two consolation goals.
To make matters worse for T&T, they ended the match with ten players on the field as starting goalkeeper Akyla Walcott was substituted off during the second half and her replacement, Aaliyah Alexander, was sent off for a foul, 20 minutes later.
T&T complete their Concacaf Championship campaign against Canada from 7pm on Tuesday.