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De Four names 18 overseas players in training squad for Olympic qualifiers; ‘Baby’ appointed skipper

Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team head coach Stephan De Four named 18 overseas-based players in his 29-member squad for a residential camp, as they prepare for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifying series.

The team will be led by Iceland-based midfielder Karyn ‘Baby’ Forbes and lists her sister and goalkeeper Kimika Forbes, midfielder Janine Francois and defenders Liana Hinds and Khadisha Debesette among its veteran players.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Karyn Forbes (right) keeps the ball away from Guatemala attacker Diana Barrera during last Thursday’s 2016 Olympic qualifying action.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

There is no shortage of young blood though with attackers Aaliyah Prince, Laurel Theodore, Alexcia Ali and Shanelle Arjoon and defenders Amaya Ellis, Maria-Frances Serrant involved, alongside a host of new inclusions from Trinidad and Tobago’s diaspora in North America.

“I think preparations have been good,” Forbes (Ka) told the TTFA Media. “It’s a new squad. At any point in life you have to have transition. With some of the new players coming in, we’ll be able to utilise them and have some fresh blood and help them to grow.

“I think right now a lot is at stake especially where women’s football is concerned. I hope we can use this competition as an opportunity to make a statement and bring back the fun and bring back people out to watch women’s football.”

The Woman Soca Warriors kick off their Caribbean qualifying campaign for the 2020 Olympics against Aruba from 5pm next Monday in the second game of a double header at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.

Trinidad and Tobago and Aruba will also battle with St Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda and the Dominican Republic in a round robin format over the next two weeks with only the group winner advancing to the Concacaf leg.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago forward Laurelle Theodore (left) pressures Canada right back Emma Regan during CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship action at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on 20 January 2018.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

De Four has less than a week to select his final team and get them ready for competitive action. But there is no question that he cast his net far and wide for talent—despite there being notable omissions like Kennya ‘Yaya’ Cordner, Kayla Taylor, Arin King, Rhea Belgrave, former captains Natasha St Louis and Maylee Attin-Johnson and veteran attacker Ahkeela Mollon, who is the WoLF top scorer at present.

Goalkeeper Saundra Baron, who was critical of current president David John-Williams in a three-part blog on Wired868, is injured.

There is no shortage of bodies in the technical area either. De Four has four assistant coaches in Andy Salandy, Darrel Marcelle, Corbin Cooper and Desiree Sarjeant while former Strike Squad legend Earl ‘Spiderman’ Carter serves as his goalkeeping coach with Natalie Harper as equipment manager and Kern Meloney and Shenice Gittens as therapists.

“Every coach is different but Stephan is very serious,” said Forbes (Ka), “and we need someone who is serious. I’m elated to work under him.”

Although TTFA president David John-Williams still has been unable complete the Home of Football—three years after starting the initiative—the Women Soca Warriors were given a tour of the facilities and offered the usual complimentary remarks to their press officer.

“I think the initiative of having the Home of football is very good because it could really help the TTFA and help bring in funds to help the teams in the future,” said Forbes (Ka). “I know everything takes time so we have to be able to let everything take its due time and process. I am hoping as time goes on we will be able to utilise the hotel and gain some income from this hotel.

Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team prepare for kick off against Panama at the 2018 Concacaf Championship in North Carolina, USA.
(Copyright MexSport/Concacaf)

“It’s really good as having this facility will help us a lot. I have been traveling back and forth between Trinidad and Tobago. It’s really important that we have accommodation.”

Forbes will be hoping to spur her side on with an opening win against Aruba next Monday in Couva.

Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team 

Goalkeepers: Malaika Dedier (St Augustine Secondary), Kimika Forbes (Millionarios FC—Colombia), Tenesha Palmer (Police FC);

Defenders: Sydney Boisselle (York University—Canada), Khadisha Debesette (Club Sando), Amaya Ellis (University of Illinois—US), Nathifa Hackshaw (St Augustine Secondary), Liana Hinds (Sundsvall DFF—Sweden), Renasha Jones (Tobago Chicas), Janelle McGee (California Storm—US), Aaliyah Pascall (Club Sando), Tori Paul (Olympic High—US), Meyah Romeo (Monroe College—US), Maria-Frances Serrant (St Augustine Secondary);

Midfielders: Agape Alexander (Liu Brooklyn—US), Shanelle Arjoon (West Texas A&M—US), Karyn Forbes (Fjaroabyggo—Iceland), Janine Francois (QPCC), Asha James (Florida International University—US), Jasandra Joseph (Trincity National), Maya Matouk (University of Tampa—US), Nia Walcott (University of Maryland—US);

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Shanelle Arjoon (centre) prepares to shoot for goal while Suriname players Stephany Hanenberg (left) and Sulaika Kinsaini looking on during CFU Challenge Series action at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on 25 April 2018.
(Copyright Matthew Lee Kong/CA-Images/Wired868)

Forwards: Faith Alexander (Pride Soan Club—US), Alexcia Ali (Pleasantville Secondary), Afiyah Cornwall (QPCC), Cayla McFarlane (Patdadores—US), Aaliyah Prince (North Texas State—US), Makayla Prince (Club Sando), Laurel Theodore (Roger State University—US).

Olympic Team Staff: Stephan De Four (head coach), Andy Salandy (assistant coach), Darrel Marcelle (assistant coach), Corbin Cooper (assistant coach), Desiree Sarjeant (assistant coach), Earl Carter (goalkeeper coach), Natalie Harper (equipment manager), Kern Meloney (therapist), Shenice Gittens (therapist).

Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying 

(Monday 30 September)

St Kitts & Nevis vs Dominican Republic, 2.30pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;

Aruba vs Trinidad & Tobago, 5pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;

(Wednesday 2 October)

Dominican Republic vs Aruba, 2.30pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;

Trinidad and Tobago vs Antigua and Barbuda, 5pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago forward Aaliyah Prince (right) tries to squeeze a shot past Grenada defender Judy McIntosh during CFU Challenge Series action at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on 27 April 2018.
Prince scored three times in a 8-1 win for T&T.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

(Friday 4 October)

Antigua & Barbuda vs Dominican Republic, 2.30pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;

Aruba vs St Kitts & Nevis, 5pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;

(Sunday 6 October)

Antigua & Barbuda vs Aruba, 2.30pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;

Trinidad & Tobago vs St Kitts & Nevis, 5pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;

Tuesday 8 October)

St Kitts & Nevis vs Antigua & Barbuda, 2.30pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;

Trinidad & Tobago vs Dominican Republic, 5pm, Ato Boldon Stadium.

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