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Shabazz: Haiti caught us by surprise; U-20 Women must recover quickly with Canada lurking

Trinidad and Tobago Under-20 Women’s coach Jamaal Shabazz anticipated that his team’s opening encounter in the CONCACAF Under-20 Women’s Championship against Haiti was going to be a “High Noon” affair—and it came to pass. The hosts played their role in a five goal thriller which saw them  edged out 3-2 by their Haitian counterparts at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva last night.

Shabazz also envisaged that the Caribbean teams were likely to abandon tactics in a game for gunslingers—and that too came to pass.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago players Ranae Ward (left) and Shadi Cecily Stoute (right) double-team Haiti midfielder Dougenie Joseph during CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 18 January 2018.
Haiti won 3-2.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

However, the young Women Soca Warriors coach might not have foreseen a clinical hat-trick by Haiti captain and star player Nérilia Mondésir, which took Haiti from two-goals down to a well-earned 3-2 victory.

Mondésir, who turned 19 on Wednesday, had a tremendous belated birthday present as she tormented opposing captain Natisha John and the Trinidad and Tobago read guard all night.

“We had a dream start but we lost to a more skilful, aggressive team tonight,” Shabazz told the media at the post-match briefing. “I think the girls gave a big effort and the Haitian team was a lot more aggressive and stronger. All in all, this is the reality. I think when Haiti equalised they totally took over the game.”

Prior to the start of the tournament, Shabazz pointed out that the strength of his current Under-20 team was their experience at the CONCACAF level with Trinidad and Tobago’s various youth teams. And he posited that his team would have no illusions about the type of quality opposition they would face at these Championships.

However, after going two goals up inside the first ten minutes, the host team seemed stunned by the confident response by Mondésir and company.

Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Under-20 Team pose before kick off against Haiti at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 18 January 2018.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

“I think our players are hungry for it but I think they were very surprised by the speed and the aggression of this Haitian team,” Shabazz stated. “This was a skilful and very aggressive bunch and we can’t take anything away from them. They outplayed us tonight and they deserved to win.”

Both Shabazz and team captain, John, had stressed the importance of bringing a calming influence to a very excited home team squad, and after Kedie Johnson whipped a devilish left-footed corner past Kerly Theus and into the Haitian net, it appeared as though all hell broke loose.

The hosts, who started like a house on fire with players such as Chelcy Ralph, Aaliyah Prince and Dennecia Prince bursting their lungs in a bid to run at the Haitian defence, were unable to ever settle the game down though. And it made for a dangerous, open game that suited the hungry and fit Haitian gunslingers.

John certainly had her hands filled with the tricky Mondésir, and Shabazz conceded that his defenders did not execute what they rehearsed in training; leaving Mondésir and fellow attackers Nelourde Nicolas and Sherly Jeudy with acres of space to run into as a result.

“[We were not] dropping deep at times when the ball was not under pressure in the midfield,” said Shabazz. “And by staying high when the ball was not under pressure in midfield, we gave up a lot of space behind our backs. We paid dearly for it and it’s something we have got to adjust to for the two remaining games.”

Photo: Haiti captain and forward Nerilia Mondésir (right) sprints to the ball while Trinidad and Tobago captain and defender Natisha John tries to keep up during CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 18 January 2018.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Mondésir halved the deficit after meeting a lovely cross from the right in the 26th minute—while Trinidad and Tobago were temporarily down to 10 players as full back Jaasiel Forde received treatment—and Jeudy ought to have levelled soon after, as she rounded Trinidad and Tobago custodian K’lil Keshwar but muffed her shot at an empty goal; which allowed centre back Shaunalee Govia to recover and clear.

But, with central midfielders Ranae Ward and Shenieka Paul overrun by Haiti’s midfield trio of Jeudy, Melchie Dumunay and Dougenie Joseph, the 2,500 fans present—officially tabulated at just under 1,700 paying patrons—could have sensed that momentum was shifting.

“Trinidad and Tobago had us in some difficulty in the first half and I urged my players not to get upset,” said Collat, who commended the hosts’ nippy frontline. “When we scored the second goal we realised that the possibility of winning the game was in our grasp […] our girls realised that they were stronger than the Trinidad and Tobago team and because of this we were able to [go on and] win the game.”

Johnson admitted, after the match, that the Under-20 Team lost focus after their sizzling start.

“It was tragic because we fought so hard and we worked so hard […] but unfortunately that is how it goes sometimes in life,” said Johnson, in the post-match mixed zone. “The key factor was continuing to push despite the score. I saw most of us [were] watching the time and that was distracting for us; and the crowd was a kind of distraction. We had to focus on the game.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Kedie Johnson (far right) celebrates her goal against Haiti with teammates (from left to right) Ranae Ward, Dennecia Prince and Shenieka Paul during CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 18 January 2018.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Shabazz was also disappointed in their failure to make the most of the early good fortune.

“There was a lot of nervous energy and the hype was high [but] I think we went flat after we scored the two goals,” said Shabazz, whose players were never able retain possession in midfield. “But really, the two goals were not really an indication of any kinda dominance on our part […] it was really a dream start and I think the lesson here for us is: the score in the game [at any appointed time] is not the result of the game.”

Mondésir levelled for Haiti in first half stoppage time, as she controlling another right side cross before a composed finish past Keshwar. And the Haitian captain completed a delightful hattrick in the 53rd minute, as she outmuscled John, outfoxed a lunging Forde and hammered a right-footed shot past the opposing goalkeeper.

“Mondésir is an exceptional striker who moves quickly and shoots with both feet,” said Collat. “And she is an indispensable figure for the team.”

In Wednesday’s pre-game press briefing, Shabazz said he and his staff had watched two Haitian games on tape in the build up to the tourney.

But did the coach think the Montpellier forward warranted a man-marking assignment?

Photo: Haiti forward and captain Nérilia Mondésir (right) tries to get away from Trinidad and Tobago defender Shaunalee Govia during CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 18 January 2018.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

“[Mondésir] received the ball from somewhere,” said Shabazz. “I don’t think any team at this point will try to play man-to-man against any player. She did well and she’s certainly one of the top players in the tournament.

“[…] We came up against a top class striker and it’s one of the learning curves that we will have to undergo.”

At the other end, Prince [Aaliyah] looked isolated on the right wing and struggled to match the strength and aggression of her Haitian opponents. Substitute Lauren Theodore came within a whisker of an equaliser in the 76th minute, as she was just short of a lovely Johnson cross.

But it was the hosts who were counting their lucky stars in the closing stages, as Keshwar pulled off three brilliant saves in stoppage time to deny the Haitians a more emphatic result.

Trinidad and Tobago’s two starting central defenders, Govia and John, limped off in the second half and Shabazz admitted that he will have to make adjustments for the Canada contest tomorrow.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Ranae Ward (centre) tries to wriggle free from a trio of Haiti opponents during CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 18 January 2018.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

“At one time [against Haiti] we played with three at the back. At different intervals we had to move players around and this is a positive for our team,” Shabazz said. “Certainly they are versatile. I think though we have got to show a lot more aggression and we have got to show a lot more belief in ourselves and focus on that moment.

“I think now it’s for the players to be honest with themselves and we know that we have got to come back against Canada and try our best.

“[…] You can’t make magic in one day. We have one day to recover and recuperate. Having tasted the level of aggression and urgency needed for the game, I think it will fire our girls to work even harder against Canada.”

If Canada’s play against Costa Rica yesterday is any indication, the young Women Warriors will do well to conserve their energy for the second half. The North American nation scored three goals within a 20-minute period in the second half to overturn a 1-nil halftime deficit, and star striker Jordyn Huitema and skipper Gabby Carle were dominant.

Carle, who won a bronze medal at the 2016 Ro Olympic Games with Canada’s senior team, already assured all and sundry that her team is not here on vacation. And last night, coach Beverly Priestman reminded the hosts of that.

Photo: Canada captain Gabrielle Carle (left) leaves Costa Rica defender Stephhanie Blanco for dead during CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
(Courtesy: Sean Morrison/Wired868)

“That’s the beauty of these types of tournaments as you get to experience these sort of environments that you will come up against in your career as a player,” Priestman said. “It’s a great experience for the girls to play with some kind of home support but at the same time we know what we have to do…”

The hosts know what they have to do too. Trinidad and Tobago need a result against Canada or they must kiss their France 2018 World Cup dreams “au revoir.”


T&T (4-4-2): 1.K’lil Keshwar (GK); 3.Shadi Cecily Stoute, 6.Shaunalee Govia (15.Asha James 79), 4.Natisha John (captain), 12.Jaasiel Forde (9.Lauren Theodore 59); 19.Chelcy Ralph (17.Alexis Fortune 39), 11.Ranae Ward, 13.Shenieka Paul, 14.Kedie Johnson; 7.Dennecia Prince, 10.Aaliyah Prince.

Unused substitutes: 20.Malaika Dedier (GK), 2.Crystal Molineaux, 5.Nathifa Hackshaw, 8.Megan Rampersad, 16.Kelsey henry, 18.Brittney Williams.

Coach: Jamaal Shabazz

Haiti (4-1-4-1): 1.Kerly Theus (GK); 13.Rosianne Jean, 3.Naphtalie Northe, 4.Emeline Charles, 2.Ruthny Mathurin; 18.Melchie Dumunay; 8.Nelourde Nicolas (6.Betina Petit-Frere 70), 9.Sherly Jeudy (7.Melissa Shelsie Dacius 67), 5.Dougenie Joseph, 11.Roseline Eloussaint; 10.Nérilia Mondésir (captain).

Unused substitutes: 12.Naphtaline Clermeus (GK), 14.Rachelle Caremus, 15.Daniel Monique Etienne, 16.Taina Gervais, 17.Flero Dina Surpris, 19.Magdala Macean, 20.Dolores Jean Thomas.

Coach: Marc Collat (France)

Referee: Ekaterina Koroleva (USA)

CONCACAF Player of the Match: Nérilia Mondésir (Haiti)

Photo: The Ato Boldon Stadium scoreboard in Couva during the CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championships on 18 January 2018.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship

[All matches are carded for the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva]

(Thursday 18 January)

Costa Rica 1 (Catalina Estrada 27), Canada 3 (Jordan Huitema 49, 65, Gabby Carle 56), Group A, 4pm;

Trinidad and Tobago 2 (Dennecia Prince 3, Kedie Johnson 10), Haiti 3 (Nerilia Mondésir, 25, 45, 53), Group A, 6.30pm.

Today’s Fixtures

(Friday 19 January)

Mexico v Jamaica, Group B, 4pm;

United States v Nicaragua, Group B, 6.30pm.

Tomorrow’s Fixtures

(Saturday 20 January)

Haiti v Costa Rica, Group A, 4pm;

Trinidad and Tobago v Canada, Group A, 6.30pm.


About Roneil Walcott

Roneil Walcott
Roneil Walcott is an avid sports fan and freelance reporter with a BA in Mass Communication from COSTAATT. Roneil is a former Harvard and St Mary's College cricketer who once had lofty aspirations of bringing joy to sport fans with the West Indies team. Now, his mission is to keep them on the edge of their seats with sharp commentary from off the playing field.

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  1. Maybe you guys are being too hard on yourselves. Haiti might be a poor country but in football terms they are no mugs and they have players who play professionally in France in their ranks.

  2. I think our coach is the only one that was caught by surprise. Imagine he underestimated Haiti.

  3. Come on TTFA. Let us win something nah .. Stop recycling failures with all hthe excuses in the world . Coaching is evolving, you cannot go any where with dinasouars. Give other/new people ah chance.Anthony Sherwood is one

  4. So where is the live stream eh ah dying here with suspence lol

  5. Much better display fromm TT v Canada. 1-1 @ halftime. TT opened scoring in 3rd min via a wonderful volley from small Prince

  6. HMM!! I think the correct thing to say coach shabbazz is that the Haitian team was More organised and fitter than “we” expected. Haitian players are always athletic and speedy so I cannot understand the surprise there. They also seemed more technical And tactically aware than previous teams.

  7. Well plenty monies for the girls if they beat up the Canada team tonight and then onto the next game beating up the other team so that they can end up in the play offs and to finally qualify for France and yes been offering incentives because ah want them to break meh bank eh, but it seems that the message not getting to the players nah so my Prof. Jamaal Shabazz you always wanted me to return to our sweet country to get involve with the football, so it’s on and I am going to use one of your tactics when trying to inspire our players to be winners so here goes….When the Lion cubs are all over their father playing and roughing him up , he gives a big ROAR and all man does scatter and run behind their mother for cover while saying, buh wah wrong with daddy eh, like mammy didn’t give him no loving up last night or wah eh, well that is the same thing that our Lady Warriors have to do is ROAR like the king of the jungle against their opponents and always remember that they are in our jungle and they suppose to run things not our opponents eh.

  8. History and current form do not suggest a positive outcome against Canada, but the game starts at 0-0, so leh we see what happens.

  9. 2018 CONCACAF Under-20 Women’s Championship Preview: Canada vs Trinidad and Tobago

  10. Back in the days Keith Look Loy was noted for doing that madness to his players when coaching the national youth teams cussing them and saying this and that I couldnt believe my ears when I visited to watch the team in training as I always did whenever I returned to our sweetest country I said to myself but this man is ah madman and what I know for a fact that some of these bootleg coaches doesnt really know the subject so they always have to use abusive langauge to get across their points the fella call Sellers our ex national 74 team player is another one like that ah wonder if they both still conduct themselves in that kind of manner. Them really good yes

  11. Another thing i observed is the way local coaches handle athletes. They ridicule the athlete rather than uplift.
    The use of communication is critical in coaching.

    • That is why the study of psychology is an important first step in becoming a good coach. I would say Tony , due to our cultural development our coaches lose sight of demoralizing negative motivation is to anyone. While in Jabloteah I used psychology to care for my players, instead they complained to me that I was too soft. Even the affected feel that being negative is appropriate. Since when? Due to that behavior of my players i came to the conclusion , that the effects of slavery is still impacting us mentally, and that is dangerous

  12. Once you have lived abroad and have been trained abroad they accept you initially and then discard you, because they think that they can run your programs.
    It’s a lot of cronyism that exists here.
    Egos are fragile and administrators don’t take too kindly to critique.

  13. I know for a fact, European and South American countries make life easier for players after having retired. Players who want to go into coaching are given a break. Their coaching certification are most of the time given to them. Apart from knowing for a fact I read that story in a coaching book. In Trinidad and Tobago what do we do? You have to suffer to get certification. Thanks God I don’t have to depend on their approval

  14. Yeah and they also got vex with you when you said that the Police and the Army team didn’t belong in any real professional league eh, especially when their salaries is about $ 10, 000 per month or more and the other players from the other teams is about $3000 per month eh, and they really feel that our players will really make it to the real professional leagues like the EPL, La Liga, Italian Holland, Germany , and Spain being treated that way eh Them really good yes steeuuppsss

  15. Preach, preach , you is preaching very good eh my Prof Earl Carter. Them really good yes.

  16. As I write this morning tears are in my eyes for my country’s football. Where do we go from here. To me ,I don’t know

  17. I burned inside to have experienced the tragedy in 2011 at Jablotea. I returned to help my people. Instead it was undermining news Carrington rejection. I was even told at the Board of directors meetings they never wanted any black man to coach the team.

  18. You know how many Coaching DVDS and other history of the beautiful game that I have in meh possession to share of which I mentioned on wired volley long time ago eh, and nobody asking me to get it to them eh because they must be feel that they know it all and the DVDS won’t help them eh, well I will just continue to hold on to them yes or maybe by the next wired volley football festival 2019 copy plenty of them and just share them out with the coaches that attends yes..Them really good yes.

  19. No I don’t. But nepotism cronyism and favorite one’s have a great chance to create directions rather than speak to me about helping.

  20. Strangely enough I have reached boiling point like every other Trinidad and Tobago citizens. However do you think that there’s an opportunity for me to make use of my knowledge? No .America has a need for me .Is it here in America I want to be residing?

  21. Before we look at Jamal coaching staff we need to look at what is going on in the school’s community program the grassroots etc

  22. We will continue to be angry upset bewilderment due to our performances from senior to youth soccer teams.

  23. Another important administrative structure that has never been welcome with open arms is a players Association. Why do we need these structures , is to have an oversight or watchdog groups to keep the feet to the fire.

  24. Presently many academies are popping up in many communities around the country. While that is good we also must consider are the coaches really understand how to coach. When a player goes to a national team he or she should already possess the ability to perform the basics.Headin trapping shooting passing dribbling tackling

  25. It seems that you will have to return to our sweet country and really revamp the Coaches Association again because for some reason it was swept under the carpet yes Earl Carter Them really good yes.

  26. We are always ready for anything.
    When you look at the way we approached the format to participate in the tournament is anything different.? The College league has signed on to any soccer coach that has to coach in the league must possess a four-year degree. Therefore it’s not necessarily important to have certification in coaching. Rather more importantly to be an expert in academic. Secondly are our coaches truly understand how to develop younger talent.? We need a coaching Association headed by the qualifications of individuals who understands not only administrators but who can design soccer structures. Some who understands Micro and Marcro planning.

  27. Prepare for what tournament. We always

  28. Because Trinbagonians just like to be in everything that is all even joining the ISIS organization eh we is really a bacchanal country eh. Them really good yes steeuuppsss.

  29. Why do we keep entering tournaments, if we are under-prepared?

    Are we hoping to qualify because of the luck of the draw?

    Why host a tournament, when under-prepared to play in it?

    I don’t see every Country in every tournament.

  30. So if the problems are always the preparations before all these tournaments eh why is there always the belief that our Soca Worries will always qualify and always continue to do well in the tournments eh even the president of the corrupted TTFA made that same statement in his interview about the team is going to qualify eh and I will always blame the so call coaches that always want to coach our national teams knowing that if not prepared properly eh we will always continue to be embarrased by the real football nations abroad that always takes the beautiful game seriously and is always prepared for the battles especially my second sweetest country. Them really good yes.

    • “Prior to the start of the tournament, TT struggled to get quality international warm-up matches. Shabazz was hoping to play a Central or South American team, but had to settle for matches against local teams including matches against the national senior women’s team, an Under-15 boys team and a team of ex-national players such as Cornell Glen and Dennis Lawrence.”

    • There are certain cases where you must FIND the money to do something. Given that we are hosting this tournament, we should have given these girls and coach shabazz everything they needed. We owe it to the footballers and the fans to have this team playing at optimum level. A coach after our first game should not be saying we were beaten on fitness imo.

    • Stephon where the money gone? Carolina took all with her?
      Just a few months ago, we were spending close to $350,000 TT on women’s football. So I’m not buying that poverty talk.

    • When I saw Morace and her crew working with the team they concentrated on fitness. When I saw the replacement… it was mostly windsprints up and down the field.
      You can’t build endurance with that.
      Our girls are good with skills but unfit in comparison to Canada who are less skillful but tremendously fit.

    • Tony Maxwell Hatt hmm obviously haven’t seen the games but that’s a interesting take on the ?? team style of play this competition – considering their Womens football program is among best in the world

  31. Nice bunch of players this time but coach let his mouth fly even before 1st game

  32. Somebody help me here please..What does “caught us by surprise mean?”When participating in any sporting event at the highest level..Does it mean we we invited to the competition the week before?

  33. But the girls said they were fully and properly prepared

  34. The bunch who represented TT was certainly not prepared for the assignment of this tournameny. Any objective fan who looked at the game would readily recognize that, notwithstanding the two brilliant early goals, the player exhibited inadequate technical, tactical, physical, athletic and mental attributes that can match any of the three other teams on display in their group.
    For 90-plus minutes, TT hardly at all managed to string together 3 or 4 passes.
    It was comedy football at best.

  35. This is what happens when you fail too prepare;No International Friendlies!!

  36. Shabazz is so courteous in defeat. Perhaps, because he has had a lot of practice.

  37. Well I really don’t know when are we going to be prepared nah because it is the same madness that happened in 2014 senior national team tournament against Mexico eh and I will continue to defend my point and that is our players the men/women cannot concentrate for the whole game eh and I don’t know what they does be thinking about eh maybe the boatrides and the carnival parties and they are never fit to play at the real professional level. THem really good yes.

  38. We were not prepared technically or physically. Not sure where my allegiance is with Canada and T&T. We don’t look organized or skillfully enough to beat anyone.

  39. And just imagine that Haiti team have 14 &15year old players that. Make we look real bad. Them really good yes steeuuppss

  40. Canada will embarrass us, judging from what I saw, and the look on every member of the team’s face.

  41. Cannot be leading 2 -0 after 15 and one player score 3 to beat u Them really good yes.

  42. The girls have to recover quickly and stay focused and confident. Anything but absolute concentration and Canada could potentially embarrass us. We don’t want that for sure.

  43. So ah hope alyuh understand why ah does be calling them ah set ah bootleg Coaches and administrators eh. Them really good yes.

  44. I do not like the word “surprised”…. to be surprised means we were not prepared, had no idea of competition, no videos, etc…

  45. And the corrupted TTFA fired the real foreign base professional women’s Italian coach who’s fitness and coaching staff wudda get them really prepared for this and many more tournamnets. steeuuppss. Them really good yes.

    • Yep, the natural talent is there but the world has moved on in terms of the fitness levels needed to play at this level. Sadly not sure they are willing to put in the pain before they even kick a ball.

  46. Why were they players surprised, the coach was supposed to prepare them for exactly this, a fit, running, passing, possession based Haitian Team.

  47. Is it that Haiti that fast or we too slow? I ask bcuz from watching the first game ystdy, I believe both Canada and Costa Rica can match Haiti for speed. Trini ball too slow

  48. clearly the coaching tactics are not working the team looking like they were not fit …

  49. “Caught by surprise ” these words …

  50. Ian R Briggs, Aaliyah struggled in truth. They were stronger than her and wise to her tricks.

    • She will be a good player for sure. But still has a bit to learn.

    • She was targeted. .. niggly fouls and physical punishment. .. they isolated her so she was unable to connect with midfield or other striker (spacing was bad so that didn’t help)… she will learn at this level with her talent she has to pop and move and then get herself into areas that it becomes a real decision to foul her. The talent is obvious… but now she need to learn the game

    • If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail. and that will always be the down fall of our national youth/ senior national men/ women teams. Them really good yes.

  51. T&T will continue to be beaten by these teams once the proper structures are not put in place to develop our players to compete at this level.

  52. At least he is honest and not speaking in parables. Them really good yes