“It’s an honour for me to come back home and coach our national team,” said Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team head coach Stephan De Four. “I appreciate the opportunity I am getting here and trying to make the best of it.
“[…] All the country is kind of starving for something and I think this team will bring back some excitement to this country in terms of women’s football.”
The Women Soca Warriors made it two wins from as many outings under their new head coach this evening ,as they whipped Antigua and Barbuda 5-0 in Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifying action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
The result, coupled with their 3-0 triumph over Aruba on Monday, pushed Trinidad and Tobago to the top of Group B—two points clear of Dominican Republic, who beat Aruba 2-0 this afternoon but drew goalless against St Kitts and Nevis on Monday.
Once more, midfielder Nia Walcott gave the hosts an early lead as headed home off a set piece from flanker Shanelle Arjoon. But, again, the Warriors initially struggled to get their second.
When skipper Karyn ‘Baby’ Forbes tucked home a penalty kick in first half stoppage time after a foul on attack Aaliyah Prince, though, Antigua and Barbuda were in trouble.
In the second half, Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Kimika Forbes was an unnecessary luxury as De Four’s troops pinned their opponents on their heels and it was only a matter of time before the floodgates opened.
Arjoon hurdled two tackles before teeing up midfielder Afiyah Cornwall for a gilt-edged chance, only for the latter player to hit woefully wide from inside the box in the 64th minute. Three minutes later, Aaliyah Prince cut in off the right flank and dribbled into the area but blasted over with teammates better placed.
The third item finally came in the 74th minute as Antigua custodian Nikisha Samuel blocked a side footed attempt by T&T substitute Cayla McFarlane but was powerless to stop a lunging Forbes (Ka) from converting the rebound.
The visitors were struggling to match the athleticism and ball movement of the Women Warriors and Samuel seemed to suffer more than her teammates. By the 81st minute, she had endured enough and limped off to be replaced by the burly Deika Alfred.
Alfred had not even touched the ball before she had to go looking for it in the back of her net, after a precise snapshot by Prince from the edge of the area—just seconds after the goalkeeper was introduced.
And their lead extended to five goals in the 89th minute as Liana Hinds, swapped from central defence to central midfield during the second half, charged into the opposing box and, in the ensuing mayhem, Walcott got her second with an accurate left footer into the corner.
“Liana Hinds is a true, true professional,” said De Four. “She has so many hats. She is very valuable to this team and […] I trust her to play in any position. I think she is going to be one of the players that exemplifies work rate and leadership on this team.”
De Four rarely approached his own bench. At the sidelines, he stood near to the edge of his technical area, urging his players to keep the ball moving.
“Aggressiveness when we are attacking and relentless when we are defending; that’s my DNA,” he said. “The style of play I like is to move the ball quickly and be aggressive in attack.”
There were barely 1,000 spectators at the Ato Boldon Stadium. But then a 5pm kick off on a weekday in which the Trinbago Knight Riders are also in action is not a recipe for a bumper crowd.
De Four would like to think that they can offer local football fans a chance to prioritise the national again. He noted that he intends to strengthen his side with a few invitees who missed this tournament through injury or school commitments.
“We have had some great teams in the past and there has been a little layoff now,” he said. “I think this new group that is coming along here, I think they can be an exciting group to watch.”
Trinidad and Tobago (4-3-3): 1.Kimika Forbes (GK); 4.Maria-Frances Serrant, 5.Liana Hinds, 7.Khadisha Debesette, 2.Meyah Romeo; 14.Karyn Forbes (captain), 9.Nia Walcott, 15.Afiyah Cornwall (6.Sydney Boisselle 73); 17.Aaliyah Prince, 16.Dennecia Prince (11.Maya Matouk 46), 13.Shanelle Summer Arjoon (20.Cayla McFarlane 66).
Substitutes: 18.Tenesha Palmer (GK), 3.Amaya Ellis, 8.Asha James, 10.Janine Francois, 19.Tori Paul,
Coach: Stephan De Four
Referee: Ekaterina Koroieva (USA)
Concacaf Women’s Olympic qualifiers
(Wednesday 2 October)
Dominican Republic 2 (Dayari Balbuena 7, 69), Aruba 0 at Ato Boldon Stadium;
Trinidad and Tobago 5 (Nia Walcott 13, 89, Karyn Forbes 45+2 pen, 74, Aaliyah Prince 81), Antigua and Barbuda 0 at Ato Boldon Stadium.
(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.