Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team coach Richard Hood hopes to put Guatemala to the sword with pace and athleticism as the “Women Soca Warriors” kick start their CONCACAF 2016 Olympic qualifying series from 7 pm (TT time) tomorrow at the BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas.
Only two nations will advance from Group B to the semifinal round and with Canada—who are ranked 11th in the world by FIFA—also in the group, the Women Warriors need to get off to a flying start.
All Rio 2016 Olympic qualifying matches will be streamed live on NBC Sports Live Extra.
The Trinidad and Tobago women are ranked 48th in the world, which is 28 places higher than Guatemala, and defeated their Central American counterparts 2-1 in the 2014 World Cup qualifying series.
They must repeat the result tomorrow.
“We know how important this first game is because the winner could potentially end up as one of the two teams to advance from the group,” Hood told the TTFA Media. “We will take each game on merit but starting with three points is definitely our first aim. We’ve had some injury concerns but I don’t expect it to hamper us.
“The training camp served us well and we have to give credit to Derrick Jonkins and Matthew Vasquez for the work they did to get them fit…
“The spirit is very good and I think they are very focused on the task at hand.”
Trinidad and Tobago and Guatemala both trained today at the sporting complex shared by the Houston Dynamo and Dash teams.
Hood, who replaced Texan Randy Waldrum as head coach last month, has seven players available from the squad that defeated Guatemala, roughly a year and a half ago in Washington.
Arin King is the only starting defender from that 2014 contest while Liana Hinds, Ahkeela Mollon, Janine Francois, Mariah Shade, Cordner and Attin-Johnson were also involved.
Hood, who is also head coach of Pro League outfit Police FC, suggested that he did not see Guatemala in action himself but was briefed on the Central American opponent by his players.
Trinidad and Tobago hope to take full advantage of their athleticism tomorrow, which could mean key roles for speed merchants like Mollon, Cordner and full back Khadidra Debesette.
“We expect the Guatemalans to play a strong possession game,” said Hood. “We don’t know much about their current team except for reports that I have received and from what I have been told by the players.
“We expect them to play the typical Central American style but we will be prepared for that. We hope to use our athleticism and our speed against them.”
Attin-Johnson said the Women Warriors are excited and optimistic, despite not having their full 21-member squad together for the entire pre-tournament camp.
“We are very excited and very much optimistic,” said Attin-Johnson. “We know how important our first game is to us. We need those three points to have a chance of going through to the next round…
“It was difficult not having all the players together at the same time but, when we did get most of our players, it turned out to be a very successful camp.
“We have a new coach and a new system and we had a lot of emphasis on executing that system that he wants to implement.”
The Women Warriors, according to their skipper, know what it takes to be victorious.
“There is a little pressure (because) we have not played together for a while but, for us, we know what it will take (to win),” said Attin-Johnson. “There are no excuses. We have to get the job done and once we execute what coach Hood wants us to do, then I think we come out victorious.
“(Guatemala) are going to come out ready to punch and we just have to be able to absorb it and punch right back and be victorious.”
The CONCACAF 2016 Olympic qualifying series kicked off with action in Group A today in Frisco where Maribel Dominguez scored a hattrick in Mexico’s 6-0 mauling of Puerto Rico in the opening game of a double header.
FIFA 2015 Player of the Year Carli Lloyd scored a penalty and Alex Morgan notched a double in the second fixture as the United States romped to a 5-0 win at the Toyota Stadium.
(Trinidad and Tobago team)
Goalkeepers: Kimika Forbes, Saundra Barron, Shalette Alexander;
Defenders: Khadidra Debesette, Jenelle Cunningham, Arin King, Victoria Swift, Karyn Forbes, Danielle Blair, Chevonne John;
Midfielders: Maylee Attin-Johnson (captain), Liana Hinds, Janine Francois, Naomi Guerra;
Attacking midfielders: Ahkeela Mollon, Tasha St Louis, Anastasia Prescott, Kennya Cordner, Kayla Taylor;
Forwards: Mariah Shade, Jo-Marie Lewis.
Coach: Richard Hood
CONCACAF 2016 Women’s Olympic qualifying series
(All kick offs given in TT time)
Puerto Rico 0, Mexico 6 (Maribel Dominguez 18, 51, 89 pen, Alina Garcia Mendez 22, Nayeli Rangel 54, Katlyn Johnson 90) in Group A at Toyota Stadium, Frisco;
United States 5 (Alex Morgan 1, 62, Carli Lloyd 9 pen, Crystal Dunn 15, Christen Press 83), Costa Rica 0 in Group A at Toyota Stadium, Frisco;
Guatemala v Trinidad and Tobago, 7 pm, Group B, BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston;
Canada v Guyana, 9.30 pm, Group B, BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston;
Costa Rica v Puerto Rico, 2.30 pm, Group A, Toyota Stadium, Frisco;
Mexico v United States, 5 pm, Group A, Toyota Stadium, Frisco;
Guyana v Guatemala, 2.30 pm, Group B, BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston;
Trinidad and Tobago v Canada, 5 pm, Group B, BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston;
Mexico v Costa Rica, 7 pm, Group A, Toyota Stadium, Frisco;
United States v Puerto Rico, 9.30 pm, Group A, Toyota Stadium, Frisco;
Trinidad and Tobago v Guyana, 7 pm, Group B, BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston;
Canada v Guatemala, 9.30 pm, Group B, BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston.