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Princesses face mighty USA in opening W/Cup qualifier tomorrow

The Trinidad and Tobago national women’s team will start its 2015 World Cup qualifying campaign in earnest tomorrow on October 15 when the “Soca Princesses” face the United States ladies from 9.30 pm in Kansas City, Missouri.

Trinidad and Tobago coach Randy Waldrum described the fixture as a David versus Goliath battle; an oft misused analogy since David had long range missiles and divine guidance. Perhaps the United States Marines versus Grenada is a more appropriate comparison.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goal scorer Dernelle Mascall (centre) gets a lift back to the centre circle from teammates Kennya Cordner (second from right), Tasha St Louis (third from right) and Arin King (fourth from right) during the 2014 Caribbean Cup. (Courtesy Jinelle James/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goal scorer Dernelle Mascall (centre) gets a lift back to the centre circle from teammates Kennya Cordner (second from right), Tasha St Louis (third from right) and Arin King (fourth from right) during the 2014 Caribbean Cup.
(Courtesy Jinelle James/Wired868)

The United States ladies are ranked number one in the world by FIFA, the defending Olympic champions and hold the distinction of being the only nation to appear at the semi-final stage of every World Cup since the maiden competition in 1991.

The Princesses are not ranked at all due to an 18-month spell without any competitive action.

The United States has won two World Cups and will aim to be the first nation to lift the showcase trophy for a third time at the Canada 2015 tournament. Trinidad and Tobago has never qualified for a FIFA women’s tournament before.

But national women’s captain Maylee Attin-Johnson told fans to expect a fearless showing from the Princesses despite the daunting odds.

“We understand the magnitude of the opponent we are going to face,” Attin-Johnson told Wired868. “But we put on our socks and shoes the same way they do. We respect the US but we won’t fear them. We will go out with a plan and hopefully we will be able to execute it.”

Much of the pre-game publicity has centred on Waldrum’s now infamous tweet last Wednesday which requested financial assistance for the Princesses, who arrived in Dallas with just US$500. Waldrum subsequently apologised and repeated TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee’s assertion that the matter was down to miscommunication.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago women's players (from left) Rhea Belgrave, Maylee Attin-Johnson, Kimika Forbes, Arin King and Karyn Forbes pose during the team's pre-Caribbean Cup camp in Houston. (Courtesy TTFA Media)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago women’s players (from left) Rhea Belgrave, Maylee Attin-Johnson, Kimika Forbes, Arin King and Karyn Forbes pose during the team’s pre-Caribbean Cup camp in Houston.
(Courtesy TTFA Media)

While the tweet sparked furious debate and disquiet in Trinidad and Tobago, Attin-Johnson said the response from the American public was much more upbeat.

The composed 28-year-old playmaker was 16-year-old when she made her senior CONCACAF debut and had never seen a Trinidad and Tobago women’s player approached by a US reporter. In the past week alone, there have been more than half a dozen interviews in Dallas and Kansas.

“They are building us up as a feel-good, Cinderella story,” said Attin-Johnson. “Everything is positive here really and there has been an outpouring of love and support and inspiring words.

“Even many Americans want us to do well.”

That goodwill is unlikely to be shared by the battle-hardened United States players tomorrow, though.

Twelve members of the US squad have more than 50 international caps while captain and defender Christie Rampone, midfielder Heather O’Reilly and striker Abby Wambach have represented their country 297, 224 and 208 times respectively.

Wambach, who has a jaw-dropping 170 international goals in 224 caps, will be the obvious danger for the Trinidad and Tobago defence.

Photo: Legendary United States scorer Abby Wambach.
Photo: Legendary United States scorer Abby Wambach.

The Princesses might not be full-strength either as key midfielders Karyn Forbes and Tasha St Louis and defender Ayanna Russell are recovering from hamstring injuries and might be kept on ice for the closing group matches against Haiti and Guatemala, which will decide the team’s fate.

“We will have to make a big decision about if we play them (against the US) or hold them back and give them another few days rest for the next two games,” Waldrum told the TTFA Media.

The Warriors will not be totally defenceless. The speed duo of TTFA Player of the Year Kennya “Yaya” Cordner and Ahkeela Mollon, who play professionally in the US and Sweden respectively, will be the Princesses’ most obvious attacking outlets while the likes of young striker Mariah Shade, steady central defender Arin King and Attin-Johnson should relish the chance to test their mettle against the best in the business.

“All the girls are in high spirits and we are just focused and preparing our minds on the game tomorrow,” said the team captain. “Of course we have some nerves. I am nervous before every game no matter the opponent; but, once the ball is touched, I am over it…

“We will be going out there with a plan because our coach is way too competitive to just tell us to try and get less than five goals. It will be a different game plan than the other two games, of course, but we won’t lie down for them.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Maylee Attin-Johnson (right) collects the 2014 Caribbean Cup trophy from CFU president Gordon Derrick. (Courtesy Jinelle James/WOLF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Maylee Attin-Johnson (right) collects the 2014 Caribbean Cup trophy from CFU president Gordon Derrick.
(Courtesy Jinelle James/WOLF)

At previous CONCACAF tournaments, Attin-Johnson admitted that the Princesses lined up knowing there was little chance of finishing higher than third in their group. But Canada’s automatic qualification as host nation freed up a spot for the region and, after conquering the Caribbean, the team in red, white and black wants to go a step further.

She asked the nation to support and pray for their sporting ambassadors as they try to become the first Caribbean team to qualify for a women’s World Cup.

“In the past, the chance just wasn’t there and we always knew we would have to settle for third in our group,” said Attin-Johnson. “But this time is different and we think we have what it takes to come out of the group…

“This is our best chance. All of our hard work and sacrifice over all those years can finally come to fruition; and we can make our dreams a reality.”

First, Trinidad and Tobago must endure 90 minutes against the best team in women’s football; a side that has already scored 48 goals in 15 internationals played in five different countries this year.

Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago starting team for the 2014 Caribbean Cup final against Jamaica. (Courtesy Jinelle James/WOLF)
Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago starting team for the 2014 Caribbean Cup final against Jamaica.
(Courtesy Jinelle James/WOLF)

Attin-Johnson promised that the Princesses will give it their best shot.

(Trinidad and Tobago squad)

Goalkeepers: 1.Kimika Forbes, 21.Tinesha Palmer;

Defenders: 4.Rhea Belgrave, 5.Arin King, 6.Khadidra Debessette, 2.Ayanna Russell, 20.Lauryn Hutchinson, 15.Liana Hinds, 16.Brianna Ryce, Patrice Superville;

Midfielders: 9.Maylee Attin-Johnson, 8.Afiya Matthias, 10.Tasha St Louis, 14.Karyn Forbes, 11.Janine Francois, 18.Khadisha Debessette, Anique Walker;

Attackers: 19.Kennya Cordner, 7.Dernelle Mascall, 3.Mariah Shade, 12.Ahkeela Mollon.

 

Editor’s Note: The TTFA confirmed that Anique Walker and Patrice Superville were added to the Trinidad and Tobago squad on Monday.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the managing director and chief editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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72 comments

  1. 1-0 to USA. Not bad TnT not bad at all. Just need some more speed. You surely did not embarrass yourselves or your Country against the #1 Team in the World. Congrats on a great performance.

  2. Phenomenal heart displayed by those ladies. Very proud of this performance even in defeat

  3. I’m glad I was wrong. Greatest performance by a TT women’s side ever, even if they lost 1-0. People forget that the US WNT is the top ranked team in the world.

  4. “@FOXSoccer: HT: USA 0, Trinidad & Tobago 0. The #USWNT with the lion’s share of the ball but T&T’s defense rock solid so far. #WWConFOX”

  5. Trini looking organized. We don’t have a lot of possession but we do show structure and shape and that’s very good.

  6. Editor’s Note: The TTFA confirmed that Anique Walker and Patrice Superville were added to the Trinidad and Tobago squad on Monday as replacements for injured players Danielle Blair and Afiyah Matthias.

  7. Please pass on the link in case Hassan.

  8. Cameron only blowing smoke up the players rear

  9. Just heard my Husband’s Niece Anique Walker, former Captain and another player made the side due to injury from two other players. Now we have double reason to root.

  10. They can’t Debbie, they don’t know how, this is a way of life

  11. we could win. it’s 11 vs 11. all the best T&T

  12. Gordon Derrick? Yuh sure dat aint Derek J?

  13. Defend to the best of your ability. You never know what can happen. Remember the Male Soca Warriors.

  14. Lawd …Wired 868…not even a simple thing like a list these people could get right…

  15. We go get about six if we lucky, but that will be an improvement.

  16. I don’t know but I just saw the page with new logo etc.

  17. Okay, the TTFA has not approved of the “Women Soca Warriors”… But the national team captain prefers it. So I will indicate from now that the team prefers to be called that. 😉

  18. Another blunder. When will they ever get it right?

  19. Editor’s Note: The squad list sent by the TTFA to the media is incorrect and will be adjusted after CONCACAF releases Trinidad and Tobago’s 20-member roster.

  20. Kirwin Weston and Sharmain Baboolal, I understand someone is trying to rebrand. But the TTFA has not made it official.
    How can I rename the team without the association’s approval or, at least, some sort of major public outpouring?

  21. Can’t wait. Will be watching with Hubby rooting for them.

  22. Go Soca Princesses! Just do your best and we know you will give them a good run for their money.

  23. Lasana, I hate when my heart and my head have to fight. It’s never a good feeling

  24. Who rebranded them? I just called the TTFA and I was told their nickname has not changed.

  25. i saw tt played a defensive approach against usa a while back and their objective was a sucess ,we can do it again

  26. Good luck girls hoping for a massive upset. …give it everything

  27. Lasana they have been re branded women soca warriors. Give them that due. This group

  28. Don’t lie down for anyone my Princesses!

  29. Roneil Walcott

    Are the games being broadcasted?