Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team coach Jamaal Shabazz reiterated that he is aiming for a final four spot at the CAC Games this month, as he selected his 20-member squad for the competition today.
Copa Libertadores winner and star goalkeeper Kimika Forbes, Canada-based central defender Arin King and United States-based utility player Liana Hinds are back in the national fold—after injury-forced lay offs—while former National Under-20 Team captain and defender Natacha John and National Under-17 attacker Afiyah Cornwall, a Carapichaima East Secondary student, were also inserted.
They join the core of the squad that advanced from the opening Caribbean phase of the France 2019 World Cup qualifying series, which includes attackers Tasha St Louis and Mariah Shade, midfield lynchpin Karyn “Baby” Forbes and defender Rhea Belgrave.
However, there was no mention of the “exciting” new foreign-born players that Shabazz promised, two months ago, while gifted attackers Kennya “Yaya” Cordner and Kayla Taylor and veteran winger Ahkeela Mollon are also not involved.
Former team captain Maylee Attin-Johnson ruled herself out of contention in May, after expressing a lack of confidence in the capability of the national coaching staff.
The Women Soca Warriors are drawn in Group B with Mexico, Haiti and Nicaragua and Shabazz hopes to advance to the knockout stage of the competition, which will be held in Baranquilla, Colombia.
“This CAC Games allows us to see the future with the present and mesh it with the soon to become past bunch of players against Concacaf level opposition,” Shabazz told the TTFA Media. “We want the girls to accept the challenge that playing against the likes of Mexico, Haiti and others at present.
“And in doing so, if we can steal a semi final spot, that would really boost our preparations for the World Cup Qualifiers come August.”
Trinidad and Tobago open their CAC campaign against Mexico at the Estadio Moderno Julio Torres on 20 July before facing Nicaragua and Haiti on 22 and 24 July respectively. The other four women’s teams involved in the competition are Venezuela, Jamaica, Costa Rica and hosts Colombia, who are in Group A.
The group winners and runners up advance to the semi finals on 27 July while the bronze medal and gold medal matches are scheduled for 30 July.
Shabazz expressed satisfaction with the talent at his disposal.
“The squad reflects an interesting blend of youth and experience,” said Shabazz. “We’ve got local and foreign based players in the mix, the kind of diversity that has become synonymous with our twin island Republic.”
(Trinidad and Tobago Women’s squad)
Goalkeepers: Kimika Forbes, Saundra Baron;
Defenders: Arin King, Rhea Belgrave, Jonelle Cato, Ayana Russell, Jenelle Cunningham, Natacha John;
Midfielders: Naomie Guerra, Karyn Forbes, Patrice Superville, Janine Francois, Shenelle Arjoon, Liana Hinds, Kedie Johnson;
Forwards: Tasha St Louis, Mariah Shade, Natasha St Louis, Aaliyah Prince, Afiyah Cornwall.
Standbys: Anastasia Prescott, Crystal Molineaux, Nicolette Craig.