“First of all, here the mood is good because we are in a beautiful hotel and it’s the first time that the players are staying together since we began training,” Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team head coach Carolina Morace told the TTFA Media. “We are doing some team building that helps the players to get to know each other better and they are appreciative of that.”
If there was any fallout from the abrupt departures of former captain Maylee Attin-Johnson, talented winger Ahkeela Mollon and three-time Player of the Year Kennya “Yaya” Cordner, Morace did not hint at it as she painted a rosy picture of her current team camp.
The Women Soca Warriors face Venezuela from 4pm on Sunday at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva for their first international affair under the high profile Italian coach.
The suspensions of Attin-Johnson and Cordner, which followed Mollon’s self-imposed exile, caused some disquiet among local football fans. And there were fingers pointed towards Morace’s sometimes fractious relationship with players during a previous stint as Canada coach.
In response, Morace depicted her team camp as a love fest.
“It’s good to see them all day—and all speaking and laughing together,” said Morace. “That is a very good thing. I am happy about that because a team actually becomes a team when the players to come everyday to the field with a smile and to want to come to us coaches and enjoy the training.
“I was a player before so I know how important it is for the player to have a lot of involvement. They play because they play for each other, they are friends on the field and they want to represent the country in the best way possible.”
The Women Warriors have the benefit of an unprecedented two and a half year programme leading up to the France 2019 World Cup. It is likely to be an easier journey if the coach has Cordner, Mollon and Attin-Johnson on her side.
But, for now, Morace is focusing on the players in her camp. And she says they are getting better.
“The players are looking forward to this match just as a verification to see where they are at […] and to see where we are at,” said Morace. “It’s normal that the players training with us everyday will know better about the movement that I want from them but also the players who are now joining us I can see they are very focused also.
“It is important that they understand the need for that.”
The Italian coach suggested that the Warriors have not yet attained the physical levels necessary to implement her preferred style of play. However, she insisted that the players and staff are anxious to gauge their progress against Venezuela.
“We are working on timing, on ball possession and how we must play when we have the ball and, in non-ball possession, we will play zonal,” she said. “Of course the coaches before may have had a different style. We will try to have strong team in defence when we do not have the ball and then be ready to attack when we are in possession of the ball.
“We know that we are not in the best physical condition right now, so we have to decide if we have to attack high or whether it’s better in an intermediate way. Our staff is working hard in the camp every day to have the players ready. We are all curious and all excited to play these two games.”
Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela meet from 4pm on Sunday and then from 7pm on Wednesday 29 March at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
Tickets cost TT$100 (covered) and TT$50 (uncovered) and will be sold at the match venue on game day.