The Trinidad and Tobago Women’s Senior National Team would have been encouraged today as the grouping for CONCACAF’s final qualifying round for the 2016 Olympic Games gave them a fair shot at a semifinal place.
The “Women Soca Warriors” face Guatemala in their opening Group B fixture at the BBVA Compass Ground in Houston on 11 February, 2016. They will then tackle Canada on February 14 and Guyana on February 16. The top two teams from each group advance to the semifinal round while the two finalists will qualify automatically for the Rio Olympics.
Talented Trinidad and Tobago winger Ahkeela Mollon shared her excitement on social media, although there was a note of caution.
“God couldn’t had asked to be placed in a better group,” said Mollon. “Please let us get the preparation we deserve… Rio 2016, I am loving this group…”
The Women Warriors topped the Caribbean qualifying phase last Friday with a 1-0 win over Puerto Rico while Guyana surprised Jamaica to finish third.
But Trinidad and Tobago’s qualifying competition was again overshadowed by administrative issues, as captain Maylee Attin-Johnson and star attacker Kennya “Yaya” Cordner both opted against joining the squad.
Incidentally, Cordner and Attin-Johnson were Trinidad and Tobago’s two scorers last year when the Women Warriors defeated Guatemala 2-1 to advance to the CONCACAF semifinal round during their 2015 Women’s World Cup qualifying campaign.
Thus far, Cordner and Attin-Johnson have refused to play under current team manager Sharon O’Brien.
There is uncertainty among the coaching staff too. Texan Randy Waldrum remains the head coach on paper but he was not involved in the Caribbean qualifying phase nor was his council sought by his former assistant and current interim head coach, Anthony Creece.
Whereas the 2015 Women’s World Cup offered CONCACAF four positions—inclusive of the host nation, Canada—and a Play Off spot against South America, the Rio Olympics will be twice as difficult to reach.
Canada are the firm favourites in Group B and, should the Women Warriors finish second, it is likely to mean a meeting with World Cup champions, the United States.
For Trinidad and Tobago to get to the 2016 Olympics, this must defeat Guatemala, Guyana and either Canada or the United States.
At the very least, the Woman Warriors will hope to show they have not gone backwards by defeating Guatemala and Guyana.
2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship
USA, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Costa Rica
Canada, Guatemala, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana
(Wednesday February 10)
Puerto Rico vs Mexico, 5 pm, Toyota Stadium, Frisco;
USA vs Costa Rica, 7.30 pm, Toyota Stadium, Frisco;
(Thursday February 11)
Guatemala vs Trinidad & Tobago, 5 pm, BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston;
Canada vs Guyana, 7.30 pm, BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston;
(Saturday February 13)
Costa Rica vs Puerto Rico, 12.30 pm, Toyota Stadium, Frisco;
Mexico vs USA, 3 pm, Toyota Stadium, Frisco;
(Sunday February 14)
Guyana vs Guatemala, 12.30 pm, BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston;
Trinidad & Tobago vs Canada, 3 pm, BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston;
(Monday February 15)
Mexico vs Costa Rica, 5 pm, Toyota Stadium, Frisco;
USA vs Puerto Rico, 7.30 pm, Toyota Stadium, Frisco;
(Tuesday February 16)
Trinidad & Tobago vs Guyana, 5 pm, BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston;
Canada vs Guatemala, 7.30 pm, BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston;
(Friday February 19)
1B vs 2A, 4.30 pm, BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston;
1A vs. 2B, 7.30 pm, BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston;
(Sunday February 21)
Winner SF1 vs Winner SF2, 4 pm, BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston.