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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.

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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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  1. Debbie….Becase it is the only way to make it look like they have a say or have any idea about what they talking about… Hence the reason why trying to get anything seriously going in TT is like spinning top in mud….for the 5 that have sense or make sense it have 400 hundred who only talk nonsense…. cyah win with dem odds….

  2. Prince there are some folks no matter how hard you try are always willing to pull down their own. I have a Friend living in the States who wrote me last night and said she didn’t realize that Trinidad and Tobago had such a good Women’s Football team and that was in the 1st half. She also wrote she was baffled as to why they didn’t get the full support from our Government and had to go ah begging. She even wanted to help. My Sister in Houston was also impressed with our Team so why, why our own people always seek to drag down instead of uplift? SMDH!!

  3. The last seven games before this. The US won by a combine 54-2. Come on fellas be realistic man

  4. I saw people congratulating the goalkeeper but my man of the match is Arin King

  5. All in all good result. Been following the women’s team since I played. They’ve always been consistent as opposed to the men’s team.

  6. of course You will see it more against lesser ranked teams because they have more space… I’m amazed by their fitness…
    Keep in mind school girls, working women vs women who play daily at high levels

  7. Hope the coach works on movement an passing. If we could improve in those areas we get into top five in the world for me. Would like to see lil more aggression when we don’t have the ball.

  8. Yes we need to be hungrier and our defense didn’t look good etc

    You have to remember we are playing the number 1 team in the world with only professionals whereas we have only 1 professional player on the team…
    The coach played the game in according to the players that he had…

  9. Morgan an Wambach the strikers for USA’s diagonal runs killing the defense in the 2nd half. Goal getting peppered.

  10. Watching the game over anto me we really looking like a small goal side. Good chances but the defense an mids movement an passing leaves a lot to be desired. Let’s hope we improve.

  11. Kenneth Ransome I think you’re being overly harsh. I think the players played with as much hunger and desire as anyone could possibly ask for. That only takes you so far though. We need to look at the reality which is the team, like so many before it, were woefully under-prepared for this tournament. Even Haiti had better preparation than we did.

    I think, not only this team, but several other national football teams are very good at this time. However support is sorely lacking. Support from management. Support from investors…and painfully, support from fans.

    We must do better at being there, not only when we qualify for a world cup, or win a gold medal, but from the start, win, lose or draw.

  12. They will get a lot of love and credit from losing from 99.9% of us, Debbie. I am about what we need to do to beat teams as strong as the US. We have to get that killer instinct, that merciless attitude of taking no prisoners. They have my love but playing backs and forwards did not cut for me tonight. Sorry…

  13. Don’t you think they had enough set backs already Kenneth? All they need is positive vibes right now from all of us. They performed brilliantly despite all the adversities. Give the Girls some credit please.

  14. I show them love all the time, Brent Bennett, and will continue to do that for years. It’s time to be honest and objective moving forward, however. The only way to improve and beat the USA is to provide honest objective feedback.

  15. Kenneth Ransome I eh sure what yuh really want. Nothing else can be said other that these ladies were terrific tonight. We just played the #1 ranked team in the world. …. show them some love man….

  16. The Keeper was a boss tonight. Our defense looked damn good too. USA is the #1 ranked Women’s team in the World and little TnT embarrassed them in their own backyard. We had a couple near misses ourselves. I think under the circumstances our Girls did a damn great job. All kudos to them. Congrats on a job accomplished.

  17. T&T needs to be hungry man, real hungry against these teams. The USA took 29 shots versus T&T’s 7. In defense, we had to clear the ball 26 times to the USA’s 6. Keeper earned her pay tonight, yes!

  18. That game reminded me of T&T vs Sweden in 2006! Wonderful effort from the Women Soca Warriors!

  19. Both central defenders Ian R Briggs but yuh right King is ah beast

  20. King is a Beast…. love her composure…. for 90 min play like a baller….