The Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team has withdrawn from the Cyprus Women’s Cup owing to financial issues, a move which is expected to be a blow to the team’s 2019 France World Cup preparations.
The invitational international tournament, which kicks off on 28 February, was expected to provide an excellent launchpad for the “Women Soca Warriors” who begin their World Cup qualifying campaign in May’s Caribbean Championship.
Three of FIFA’s top 20 ranked women nations—Spain, Italy and Switzerland—are among the participants while the Trinidad and Tobago Women’s Team, who are ranked 48th in the world, were grouped with Hungary (43), Slovakia (47) and South Africa (54).
However, Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) technical director Anton Corneal confirmed that the Women Warriors will miss out on the friendly competition.
“When we prioritised financially, we were not able to cover the expenses it was going to take which was—with travel and hotel—close to the tune of three quarter million dollars,” Corneal told Wired868. “I was very supportive of the tournament but financially it is a major cost and we just were not able to cover that sort of money.”
The Cyrus Cup tournament organisers announced today that the Republic of Korea, ranked 14th in the world, will take Trinidad and Tobago’s place.
Corneal said the staff will attempt to find some international practice for the team before they begin competitive action in May. The Women Warriors began their World Cup preparations last February under Italian Carolina Morace but played just two international friendlies against Venezuela—on 26 and 29 March 2017—in 12 months.
Morace quit the job reportedly owing to non-payment of her salary in August 2017 and the team has not played since.
Corneal said the current staff, which is headed by Jamaal Shabazz, is working on an alternative to the Cyprus Cup.
“We are looking at a Plan B now and Costa Rica, Mexico and the USA have been mentioned,” said Corneal. “But those are just suggestions so I have to meet with the staff and find out what budget we have first. Without knowing our budget, it is difficult to plan.”
The Women Warriors will attempt to defend their Caribbean crown in May—at present, they are Trinidad and Tobago’s only regional champion team—while Corneal also hopes to participate in July’s CAC Games in Colombia.
“The CAC Games will be a good tournament for us to get some exposure before we go into the CONCACAF competition,” said Corneal. “And that will be paid for by the TTOC or CAC.”
Trinidad and Tobago have failed to get past the Caribbean qualifying stage at Under-17 level in both the boys and women’s categories recently, though, while the Under-20 Women’s Team finished bottom of their CONCACAF group last month following inadequate preparation.
Corneal said the women’s staff will do their best to prepare the team although they are still awaiting more details on the upcoming Caribbean competition.
“We don’t know where the [Caribbean] tournament will be held in May and even what format it will take,” said Corneal. “I think it would be nice if we can have it here.”