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T&T women get tough Concacaf draw; must defeat Mexico to keep W/Cup dream alive

The Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team must defeat Panama and either Mexico or the United States or face early elimination from the 2018 Concacaf Championship in the United States.

The Women Soca Warriors were drawn in Group A along with the three aforementioned teams at today’s draw, which was conducted by Concacaf Women’s Football head and ex-Canada international Karina Le Blanc.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Naomie Guerra (right) tries to contain Panama midfielder Kenia Rangel during international friendly action against Panama at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 22 March 2018.
(Copyright Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Group B is headed by Canada and also includes new Caribbean champions Jamaica, Costa Rica and Cuba. Jamaica were seeded ahead of Trinidad and Tobago due to their triumph on home soil in the regional championship, which was concluded in Kingston on 1 September.

The Concacaf tournament serves as the qualifying series for the France 2019 Women’s World Cup, with the top three nations in the confederation automatically advancing to the FIFA tournament while the fourth placed team heads into a play off with South America’s third place finisher.

Trinidad and Tobago kick off the 2018 competition on Thursday 4 October when they face Panama from 5pm in the first game of a double header in Cary, North Carolina. The United States tackle Mexico from 7:30pm at the same venue.

The Women Warriors lost 2-1 and drew 1-1 with Panama in friendlies at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva in March.

Four years ago, Trinidad and Tobago—then the Caribbean queens—were drawn with USA, Guatemala and Haiti in Group A and advanced to the semifinal stage with successive wins over Guatemala and Haiti and a narrow 1-0 loss to the hosts, USA.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Kimika Forbes (right) punches clear of a crowded penalty area during the 2014 CONCACAF Championships third place play off against Mexico.
(Copyright AFP 2014/Mitchell Leff)

But they will have a tougher road to the knockout stage this time. Mexico defeated Trinidad and Tobago 4-2 in extra time, at the 2014 tournament, to force the two island republic into a FIFA Play Off with Ecuador, which the South American team won 1-0 on aggregate over two legs.

The gap between the Women Warriors and Mexico appears to have widened since too, as the Spanish-speaking North American nation routed Trinidad and Tobago 5-1 on 20 July 2018 at the CAC Games in Colombia.

Trinidad and Tobago have made a few changes since the CAC Games, though, with technical director Anton Corneal replacing Jamaal Shabazz as head coach while gifted forwards Kayla Taylor and Kennya “Yaya” Cordner and veteran defender Lauryn Hutchinson—all based overseas—have all been drafted into the squad.

2018 Women’s Concacaf Championship

(4-17 October)

Group A: USA, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Panama;

Group B: Canada, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Cuba.

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