Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team head coach Kenwyne Jones and captain Karyn “Baby” Forbes promised a positive mindset tomorrow when they open their 2022 Concacaf W Championship against reigning Olympic champions, Canada, from 10pm (TT time) at the Estadio BBVA in Guadalupe, Mexico.
The fixture is the second of a Group B doubleheader at the venue. Costa Rica and Panama will get the ball rolling from 7pm at the Estadio BBVA, which is nicknamed “El Gigante de Acero” or “The Steel Giant”.
Canada coach Bev Priestman still has the services of 18 members of her team that lifted the Tokyo Olympic Games title, just 12 months ago, as well as all 16 outfield players used in their win over Sweden in the final.
As just one indicator of the gulf in know-how between the two teams, Trinidad and Tobago’s 23-member squad have under 250 caps between them—no accurate statistical data is available online, although Wikipedia’s record of 135 caps and 28 goals is certainly too low.
Canada captain Christine Sinclair has made an astonishing 310 international appearances with 189 goals herself, followed by midfielders Sophie Schmidt (213 caps/ 19 goals) and Desiree Scott (176 caps/ 0 goals) and defenders Kadeisha Buchanan (118 caps/ 4 goals) and Ashley Lawrence (105 caps/ 7 goals).
Jones, understandably, urged his players to use the game “as measuring sticks for yourself [to] see what you might need to do to get better”. But he and Forbes insisted that the Women Soca Warriors would not roll over either.
“We are here to compete [and] it will be eleven versus eleven,” said Forbes, in today’s virtual pre-match press conference.
Eight years ago, Trinidad and Tobago earned plaudits for a plucky 1-0 loss to the United States in the 2014 Concacaf Women’s Championship—a performance that preceded Trinidad and Tobago’s best showing at this level to date, as they were eventually defeated in the Fifa Playoffs by Ecuador.
Jones will hope to also be able to take positives from tomorrow’s contest, which he suggested could be “character building”. Canada won 6-0 in the last meeting between the two senior teams on 14 February 2016.
“In order to get to the goal that we want to get to, these are the teams we have to play,” said Jones. “[…] Football is won on the day and anything can happen.”
Trinidad and Tobago have a few niggling injuries, according to Jones and Forbes—although both opted to keep the identity of the players private for now.
“[We have been] training on fields that are really hard and it contributed to the niggles,” said Jones, who explained that there is a water shortage in Monterrey at present which might have affected the watering of football grounds.
Almost certainly, the Trinidad and Tobago players who are not fully fit will be kept in reserve for their second group match against Costa Rica on Friday 8 July at the Estadio Universitario in San Nicolás.
The top two teams from Group B will qualify automatically to the Australia/ New Zealand 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup, while the third placed team enters a Fifa Playoff.
It means the Women Warriors can continue their 2023 World Cup push with just three points—and possibly even less, if they do not concede too many goals—from a maximum of nine points over their three group matches.
Their first test is a miserly Canadian team that let in just one goal from 330 minutes of knockout football at the Tokyo Olympics and—in Sinclair, her Portland Thorns teammate Janine Beckie and Houston Dash forward Nichelle Prince—have a potentially incisive frontline.
It will be a formidable test for the likes of Trinidad and Tobago playmaker Asha James, defender Victoria Swift and flanker Kedie Johnson.
(Trinidad and Tobago)
Goalkeepers: 1.Kimika Forbes (Unattached), 21.Tenesha Palmer (Police FC), 22.K’lil Keshwar (St Francis College—USA);
Defenders: 2.Chelsi Jadoo (Valadares Gaia FC—Portugal), 4.Rhea Belgrave (Police FC), 8.Victoria Swift (Unattached), 5.Shaunalee Govia (Unattached), 3.Shadi Cecily Stoute (University of Georgia—USA), 7.Liana Hinds (Hibernian—Scotland), 6.Kedie Johnson (University of Louisiana Monroe—USA);
Midfielders: 20.Lauryn Hutchinson (Unattached), 14.Karyn Forbes (Police FC), 13.Amaya Ellis (Johns Hopkins University—USA), 12.Chelcy Ralph (Ball State University—USA), 10.Asha James (West Texas A&M University—USA), 23.Sarah De Gannes (Western Illinois University—USA);
Forwards: 11.Raenah Campbell (Unattached), 16.Cayla Mc Farlane (Harvard University—USA), 19.Maya Matouk (Police FC), 15.Tori Paul (George Mason University—USA), 18.Maria-Frances Serrant (West Texas A&M—USA), 17.Jolie St Louis (Seattle University—USA), 9.Brianna Austin (Florida Atlantic University—USA).
Goalkeepers: 1.Kailen Sheridan (San Diego Wave—USA), 18.Sabrina D’Angelo (Vittsjö GIK—Sweden), 22.Lysiana Proulx (Unattached);
Defenders: 2.Allysha Chapman (Houston Dash—USA), 3.Kadeisha Buchanan (Chelsea—England), 4.Shelina Zadorsky (Tottenham Hotspur—England), 8.Jayde Riviere (Michigan Wolverines—USA), 10.Ashley Lawrence (PSG—France), 14.Vanessa Gilles (Angel City FC—USA), 23.Bianca St Georges (Chicago Red Stars—USA);
Midfielders: 5.Quinn (OL Reign—USA), 7.Julia Grosso (Juventus—Italy), 11.Desiree Scott (Kansas City Current—USA), 13.Sophie Schmidt (Houston Dash—USA), 17.Jessie Fleming (Chelsea—England), 21.Zoe Burns (USC Trojans—USA);
Attackers: 6.Deanne Rose (Reading—England), 9.Jordyn Huitema (OL Reign—USA), 12.Christine Sinclair (captain) (Portland Thorns—USA), 15.Nichelle Prince (Houston Dash—USA), 16.Janine Beckie (Portland Thorns—USA), 19.Adriana Leon (West Ham—England), 20.Cloé Lacasse (Benfica—Portugal).