The Trinidad and Tobago national men’s, women’s and under-17 football teams will all see competitive action in the next month as the flurry of international action continues for the “Soca Warriors.”
The national under-17 team leaves for Haiti on Wednesday to participate in the junior Caribbean Cup, which serves as a qualifier for next year’s Under-17 CONCACAF Championship. Trinidad and Tobago opens its campaign against Barbados on Friday September 26 in a group that also contains Haiti and St Lucia.
The two top group teams will advance to the CONCACAF competition while the group winners will meet in the Caribbean Cup final.
Already, Trinidad and Tobago has lifted two Caribbean titles in the past month after the senior women and under-20 men both triumphed at Port of Spain. The under-17 team, steered by head coach Shawn Cooper, will attempt to be the first to win the accolade on foreign soil this year.
Meanwhile, the Warrior men will play at home from October 8 in the qualifying phase of the 2014 Caribbean Cup competition. The senior men are grouped with the Dominican Republic, St Lucia and Antigua and Barbuda. All the games will be played at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva and tickets are $100 (covered) and $60 (covered) while children under-12 are free.
Head coach Stephen Hart will announce his squad for the tournament next week.
“Obviously we’re pleased to be playing the group phase games at home,” Hart told the TTTFA Media. “We know the public is eager to see the team play at home. We haven’t played here since the Jamaica match last November.
“Every game is crucial for us and we’ll be taking everything into perspective.”
For the senior women, October represents an opportunity to make history as Trinidad and Tobago attempts to become the first Caribbean team to qualify for a FIFA women’s tournament.
The “Soca Princesses” will face the formidable United States team on October 15 at Sporting Park in Kansas City before tackling Haiti on October 17 and Guatemala on October 20 at the Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Illinois and RFK Stadium, Washington respectively.
The top two group teams advance to the semifinal rounds and three of the four semifinalists will qualify automatically for the Canada 2015 World Cup while the fourth place team would enter into a play off with South America.
The women’s team, which is captained by Maylee Attin-Johnson, received a significant boost on Thursday when they were afforded a live-in camp by Petrotrin, which will give the players access to training, gym and pool facilities as well as transport. Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president Raymond Tim Kee hopes that corporate T&T follows the oil company’s example.
“We are fully appreciative of the support given to the TTFA and our National Women’s Team by Petrotrin,” said TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips, “and this will go a long way in getting coach (Randy) Waldrum and his team ready for the final phase of qualification.
“We’re looking to get the team over to the USA at least a week before its opening game against the United States also.”
The TTFA also announced a four-year partnership with The Lab Medica Group and MyCard Sport program yesterday, which offers free medical screenings to all national team players and technical staff members. The deal was valued at $3 million by the two parties and will provide medical screenings comprising a doctor’s fitness check-up, blood tests such as blood count, iron tests, cholesterol and sugar as well as heart, lung and urine tests.
MyCard TTFA cards will also be sold to the public with $20 from each purchase going to the local football body for youth and player development.
Lab Medica Group CEO Richard Ramrekha revealed that his company, which is an affiliate of the HealthNet Caribbean Clinic, was partly motivated by the recent tragic deaths of former national footballers Akeem Adams and Kevon Carter.
“All of T&T would have been saddened by the untimely deaths of Akeem Adams and Kevon Carter,” Ramrekha told the TTFA Media, “and we felt that we needed to get involved and ensure that all athletes get a medical screening even before touching the field of play.
“We call on the rest of Corporate T&T to assist our athletes in the early days and not just wait to jump on the bandwagon when our teams are winning.”
The national teams are winning at the moment though.
The under-17 Warriors will try to maintain that hot streak when they tackle Barbados next Friday in Haiti.
Upcoming Trinidad and Tobago fixtures
T&T v Barbados, Sep 26, Haiti;
T&T v Haiti, Sep 28, Haiti;
T&T v St Lucia, Sep 30, Haiti;
T&T v Dominican Republic, 8.15 pm, Oct 8, Ato Boldon Stadium;
T&T v St Lucia, 8.15 pm, Oct 10, Ato Boldon Stadium;
T&T v Antigua and Barbuda, 6.15 pm, Oct 12, Ato Boldon Stadium;
T&T v USA, 7.30 pm, Oct 15, Sporting Park, Kansas City; (Central Time)
T&T v Haiti, 5.30 pm, Oct 17, Toyota Park, Bridgeview; (Central Time)
T&T v Guatemala, 5 pm, Oct 20, RFK Stadium, Washington; (Eastern Time)