The Trinidad and Tobago national under-17 women’s footballers gave a disciplined, energetic performance this evening but it was not nearly enough as they fell 2-0 in their CONCACAF opener to Mexico at the Estadio Cementos Progreso in Guatemala City, Guatemala.
It might sound pessimistic to start booking your return flight after just one group match but Trinidad and Tobago’s Norwegian coach Even Pellerud would have no illusions about the scale of the task that awaits his squad.
The T&T ladies play the United States on Saturday evening and need a win to have a realistic chance of advancing to the knock out stages. The US ladies hammered Bahamas 10-0 in the opening fixture of today’s double header—the second highest score in the history of this competition, which was three goals shy of the US team’s 13-0 rout of the Cayman Islands in 2010.
It is the sort of challenge that would make Andy Capp sober up.
Perhaps fortunately, half of the Trinidad and Tobago starting team should be too busy tomorrow to think about the likes of US striker Summer Green, who scored five times against the Bahamas.
The Bishop’s Anstey East defensive duo of Jonelle Warrick and Adika Spence, the Vessigny Secondary twins Khadisha and Khadidra Debesette and Miracle Ministries High School midfielder Victoria Swift will spend part of the day in a secluded room at the Radisson Hotel writing the first paper of their CXC examinations.
Examiner Andrea Baptiste and invigilator Theresa Aguila-Joseph were flown from Trinidad to Guatemala to ensure parity as was CXC representative Miranda Sealy, who travelled from Barbados with the exam papers. The Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) and, by extension, the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs will pick up their tab.
It is a notable sacrifice by the young ladies for their country while the TTFF also deserve commendation for ensuring that the players’ academic responsibilities were not neglected.
TTFF marketing manager Anthony Harford explained that retired teachers Charmaine Harris and Trudy-Ann Marquis accompanied the team to Panama, Florida and then Guatemala and ensured the players’ daily schedule included schoolwork.
Hopefully, the young ladies will do themselves justice in the CXC exams.
This evening, despite their best efforts, the T&T women could not solve the problems posed by their Mexican counterparts.
Pellerud sent the women out in a compact 4-5-1 system and the athleticism and determination of the Caribbean team kept Mexico at bay for the first half hour—although the match official generously failed to penalise Spence’s push on Mexican striker Luz Duarte inside the penalty area in the 28th minute.
Mexico didn’t need handouts, though.
As T&T consistently failed to keep possession, Mexico went ahead in the 32nd minute with a clever, angled left footer from Hallie Hernandez inside the 18-yard box.
Seven minutes later, Duarte doubled the Mexicans’ advantage with a precise first time effort at the near post after winger Taylor Alvarado bamboozled T&T left back Shanisa Camejo to deliver a telling cross.
Hernandez and Duarte are two of 11 US citizens on Mexico’s 18-member squad.
Alvarado might have had Mexico’s third item in the 60th minute but for a brave save from Trinidad and Tobago custodian Lebrisca Phillip. The Carapichaima East Secondary student was a surprise starter in goal but did little wrong while Warwick and her central defensive partner Khadisha, midfielders Liana Hinds and Donika Murray—both US-based—and International School striker and national captain Anique Walker worked tirelessly for the cause.
Hinds and Walker, in particular, looked capable of testing the Mexican defence with their speed and dribbling ability but were often isolated as T&T was forced to defend deep. And Mexican goalkeeper Gabriela Paz had little to worry about apart from a firm Murray effort in the first half.
There was some late spark for the islanders and substitute Marlique Asson, another Miracle Ministries pupil, also gave a promising cameo. But Mexico deserved the win.
Tomorrow, Warwick, Spence, Swift and the Debesette girls will try to shake off their opening defeat as they start their CXC exams.
It might prove easier than the test that lies ahead from the US on Saturday.
TT: Lebrisca Phillip; 5.Adeka Spence, 17.Jonelle Warrick, 6.Khadisha Debesette, 13.Shanisa Camejo (15.Nikkia Billioun 75); 16.Donika Murray, 8.Victoria Swift (Emma Abdul 89), 7.Diarra Simmons (10.Marlique Asson 66), 4.Liana Hinds, 11.Khadidra Debesette; 19.Anique Walker (Capt).