Shabazz: Arjoon ready for senior football; St Louis experiment pays dividends in Panama tie

The Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team ended their two-match exhibition series against Panama with a 1-1 draw at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella on Saturday, after again conceding a late goal.

The result continued an odd sequence for coach Jamaal Shabazz, whose Under-20 and Senior teams have led in five straight matches without once holding on for a win. Today, though, they did contrive to stave off defeat for the first time in this calendar year.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago attacker Kedie Johnson (right) tries to drive the ball past Panama defender Katherine Castillo (left) during international friendly action at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium on 24 March, 2018.
(Copyright Matthew Lee Kong/CA-images/Wired868)

In this latest encounter, however, many, including Shabazz, will argue that the Women Soca Warriors were a bit unlucky.

“We did well, scored again as usual,” Shabazz told the assembled media, “but that was a brilliant equaliser by them. I don’t think our goalkeeper, even if she had two rods, could have gotten that one.

“I thought in the last game the quality of the passing wasn’t as it was today. We had more ball movement and created some decent chances.”

After Trinidad and Tobago full-back Patrice Superville opened the scoring in the 57th minute off a brilliant reverse pass from captain Tasha St Louis, Panama midfielder Yomira Pinzón managed a spectacular equaliser for the Central American outfit in the 87th minute with a 25-yard free kick that went in off the underside of the bar.

It was a goal worthy of winning any contest and was a sucker punch for starting goalkeeper Teneisha Palmer, who had hardly put a foot wrong during the contest.

One of three changes to the line-up, Palmer, replacing Nicolette Craig in the line-up for Thursday’s first game, conjured two excellent saves to deny the visitors. Midfielder Naomie Guerra and teenaged winger Kedie Johnson were the other changes, replacing Jenelle Cunningham and Andrea Young respectively.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team coach Jamaal Shabazz (centre) considers his option during international friendly action against Panama at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 22 March, 2018.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

In contrast, Panama, currently unranked by FIFA owing to inactivity over the past 18 months, made six changes to their starting team and gave virtually their entire bench a run-out in the second half.

“It was important for us that some of our youngsters got to play,” said Shabazz. “Finding out how best we can use the players, in different roles, in different positions, I think was a bigger concern (than the result). I need to know these players; these are new players for me.”

As in the first encounter, Shabazz shuffled his players around the pitch and, in some cases, deployed them in completely different positions from in Thursday’s game.

Superville started the game on the right wing with Karyn Forbes pushed to centre-back and young attacker Johnson sent to cut her teeth at left-back.

Captain St Louis was allowed the free role up top, which Shabazz has previously stated may be the best use of the veteran attacker in the future. The tactic paid dividends as it was she who produced the magic that created the opener.

After a first half in which the hosts had been unable to capitalise on their dominance, St Louis picked up the ball in the centre circle and began advancing to the right flank where Mariah Shade remained unmarked. The crowd cried out for her to pass to the advancing Shade but the 34-year-old attacker had other plans.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain and attacker Tasha St Louis (centre) tries to keep control of the ball during international friendly action against Panama at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 22 March, 2018.
(Copyright Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Leaving at least four Panamanian defenders statuesque, she executed a superb, pin-point reverse pass that scythed through them like a knife through butter to find the overlapping Superville inside the 18-yard box. Superville, who had by then been switched to left-back, put the finishing touch to poke home beyond the onrushing Fabrega in the Panamian goal.

It was a moment of rare class from St Louis on a day when the player who shone brightest was one of the newbies, who confirmed that she belonged on the Senior Team stage.

Picking up where she left off after Thursday’s goal-scoring performance, Shanelle Arjoon was a constant bag of tricks and a persistent thorn in the visitors’ side.

“She is certainly showing that she is ready for senior football,” a pleased Shabazz told the media. “Even in the training sessions, she did the highest in the yoyo test… We are very happy with her graduation into the Senior Team.”

Young Arjoon, MVP in the Women’s Under-17 Caribbean tournament in 2013, was shifted into various positions on the pitch by Shabazz, seeking to ascertain how she would adapt. She did have a few nervous moments but her coach was pleased with her overall output.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Shanelle Arjoon (right) skips past Panama right-back Katherine Castillo during international friendly action at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 22 March, 2018.
(Copyright Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

“We have got to get her to do things a little different,” he explained. “I think at times she tries to do some magic in positions that she doesn’t need to try and it gets scary at times but, you know, culturally, it’s good… It adds that this young girl from Central/South Trinidad could go on scholarship and come back and thrill the crowd.

“These games give us that opportunity without the pressure of a tournament, the pressure of having to get a result […] to have younger players on the pitch so that the pool could be wider.”

Despite Shabazz’s philosophising, the fact is that his Women Soca Warriors have now gone five matches without a win—just the last two of those results were under Shabazz—in a barren run that started with a 5-0 Olympic qualifying loss to USA on 20 February, 2016.

“Overall, yes, we want the results,” he attempted to console himself and the fans, “but we are at the building phase. When the house is now building and we are focusing on the foundation, the foundation does not look so good. So when you are finished building the house, then we can say this is good, etc.

“After the hardship will come the ease. Keep the focus.”

The Women Warriors’ next taste of action will come in the CFU Challenge Series when they play Suriname (25 April), Grenada (28 April) and Guyana (30 April).

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago attacker Mariah Shade (left) tries to escape from Panama left-back Maria Murillo during international friendly action at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 22 March, 2018.
(Copyright Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)


Trinidad and Tobago (4-4-2): 21.Tenesha Palmer (GK); 7.Jonelle Cato, 2.Ayana Russell, 14.Karyn Forbes (3.Anastasia Prescott), 15.Kedie Johnson(13.Shenieka Paul); 8.Patrice Superville, 18.Naomie Guerra, 11.Janine Francois (6.Natasha St Louis), 12.Shanelle Arjoon (17.Andrea Young); 10.Tasha St Louis (captain), 9.Mariah Shade.

Unused substitutes: 1.Nicolette Craig (GK), 16.Nathifa Hackshaw.

Coach: Jamaal Shabazz

Panama (4-2-2-2): 12.Sasha Fabrega (GK) (1.Yenith Bailey); 13.Onelys Alvarado (7.Yasil Atencio), 8.Rebeca Espinoza (16.Katherine Castillo), 5.Yomira Pinzon, 3.Maria Murillo (4.Hilary Jaen); 2.Laurie Batista (11.Maria Guevara),14.Aldrith Quintero; 6.Kenia Rangel, 9.Karla Riley (10.Schiandra Gonzales); 19.Natalia Mills (captain), 17.Anuvis Angulo (15.Lineth Cedeno)

Unused substitutes: 18.Erika Hernandez

Coach: Victor Suarez

Referee: Crystal Sobers

Friendly international

(24 March 2018)

Trinidad and Tobago 1 (Patrice Superville 57), Panama 1 (Yomira Pinzon 87) at Mannie Ramjohn Stadium.

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  1. Shanelle Arjoon talks about her debut for the Trinidad and Tobago Women’s team in the recently concluded two-match series against Panama.

  2. ..Now, when we play it is never about winning. It is about everything else..

  3. We have to stop maintaining the lie.

  4. There are coaches in every sport who can take a team but so far. If we didn’t know it before, we found out when we brought in Beenhakker. We have long reached that point with coaches in Trinbago.

  5. Panama is unranked, what is our ranking?

    The also haven’t played for 18 months, and emptied their bench, so we played a bucket of rust.

    I am a realist, and trying to see where this puts us.

  6. Nice goal. I see that the stadium was essentially empty. No revenue coming in means no dollars for the ladies program

  7. A half full glass perspective would see this result as an improvement

  8. Well done girls the coach is the problem

  9. Now for the excuses, Panama was also inactive. Why can’t we hold a lead?

    • What was the preparation, that is Coaching Staff’s fault

    • Tony Maxwell Hatt Good morning Tony were you at the games to see the goals against scored. I’m curious as to your indication that it was fitness or lack their of as to why we can’t hold a lead. Your feedback is appreciated.

    • Mike King… I am at most of the local games involving the National teams…. and I am at the training sessions as my track clubs train at both Mannie Ramjohn and Ato Boldon Stadiums.. .I am not the only one who recognise the lack of fitness … recall that Carolina Morace indicated that aspect within a couple of weeks. From my observation the athletes are tiring in the last 30 minutes of their games which indicates a lack of cardiovascular fitness. When you are tired you lose focus.

    • Thanks Tony Maxwell Hatt I appreciate your response as I have read your comments in other threads about the teams fitness level’s. You did not answer my question kind sir Were you in the stands cheering our girls versus Panama for both friendly games ?

    • No I missed the Panama games as I was travelling with athletes out of the country but I saw most of it on You Tube playback

    • I believe i saw someone that looked like you in the stands when the girls played Canada … i had on a team Canada shirt … in the row with the other Canadian supporters ….

    • Tony Maxwell Hatt what match are you referring to? I have many evil – looking twin’s and or brothers from another mother however there is only one me 🙂 .The only Canada vs Trinidad Senior Women’s match that I have attended was in Cancun in 2010.

    • Ok…..the womens Under 20 at Ato Boldon Stadium here on Trinidad in January of this year

    • Unfortunately I was able to get down at that time to watch. Some of us actually work for a living….lol & only have so much vacation time per year. Unless Lotto Max or 649 hit at our household I’m saving my time for Concacaf in the USA of EH in the fall. That’s provided we make it. If I hit it big I’d personally sponsor the team 🙂

    • Yes Mike…. buy the Extra on the Lotto Max ?…i have more luck in the 649

    • Tony Maxwell Hatt I’m sure we both saw the same video’s posted on the various social medium’s however to be honest there was not enough footage shown to say that the primary issue was lack of fitness. Don’t quote me however coach Shabzzz during his interviews was happier with the teams overall fitness level’s. Don’t get me wrong as I know the fitness level of any team can be better however in these 2 games am sure there are more pressing area’s of concern that require attention.

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