Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team head coach Stephan De Four said his outfit are rebuilding and need more time to improve their chemistry, after a 4-1 loss to St Kitts and Nevis yesterday evening pushed them to the brink of early elimination from the 2020 Olympic qualifying series.
The Women Soca Warriors are third in Group A at present, behind St Kitts and Nevis and the Dominican Republic. And if, as expected the Kittians defeat Antigua and Barbuda on Tuesday afternoon, Trinidad and Tobago would have been knocked out with a game to spare, despite having home advantage.
De Four said his players paid the price for a slow start to the match, particularly in central midfield. But he said he only got his squad together on 20 September and urged fans to be patient.
“It is not the result we wanted but we started the game very slow,” said De Four, at the post-match press conference. “It is a team that is rebuilding so we are trying to give every player a chance to play… We started slow and we got caught with some easy goals. And when you go three goals down that quickly it is very difficult to get out of it.
“[…] I have confidence in every player [but] it is a team that is now coming together.”
Ironically, Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams opted not to register the Men’s Under-23 Team to participate in the Olympic qualifying campaign on the grounds that there was not enough time to properly prepare them. It prompted a furious response from designated coach, Angus Eve, who accused the local football body of killing the dreams of young players.
It is uncertain what John-Williams or football fans would make of the women’s team failure to get past the first group stage, with over a dozen foreign-based players at De Four’s disposal.
The Women Warriors were Caribbean champions in 2014 and runners-up in 2018 but now look likely to miss out on three available spots for the region at the 2020 Concacaf Gold Cup.
De Four insisted that he did not take St Kitts and Nevis lightly and winger Cayla McFarlane was the only player making her first start of the competition yesterday. But, in the end, they just were not good enough.
“St Kitts played a very good game,” said De Four. “Their striker (Phoenetia Browne) held up the ball very well to link with her players. We just did not start as fast as I wanted them to start at the beginning of the game and that effectively cost us the game.”
De Four was hired as a cut-price option for the head coaching position in June, with him and his staff described as ‘within the financial capacity of the TTFA’. But he promised to produce a strong finish to the tournament.
“We have a good resilient group here [and] I think we will come back,” he said. “[…] We are finishing the tournament strong. we are not going to let up… As I’ve been saying from the beginning, we are rebuilding this programme [and] it is not as if it is going to stop. We just have to keep getting players involved and keep getting more games.
“[…] We are not going to go there and lay down. This is football, it happens. we are going to keep moving this programme on. [The players] are feeling very hurt [but] they are professional players and they are going to pick themselves back up. It happens to the best teams in the world.”
Group A will come to an exciting end on Tuesday afternoon in Couva. St Kitts and Nevis play the opening encounter in the double header and, if they lose or draw against Antigua and Barbuda, then the victor between Trinidad and Tobago and Dominican Republic will advance as group winners.
Should St Kitts win, then the Women Warriors would have been eliminated before their 5pm kick off and the Dominican Republic would try to trounce the host nation to edge the Kittians on goal difference.
Trinidad and Tobago: 1.Kimika Forbes (GK); 4.Maria-Frances Serrant, 5.Liana Hinds, 7.Khadisha Debesette, 2.Meyah Romeo, 14.Karyn Forbes (captain), 9.Nia Walcott, 10.Janine Francois (16.Dennecia Prince 46), 17.Aaliyah Prince, 19.Tori Paul (13.Shanelle Arjoon 34), 20.Cayla McFarlane (8.Asha James 64).
Unused substitutes: 18.Tenesha Palmer (GK), 3.Amaya Ellis, 6.Sydney Boisselle, 11.Maya Matouk, 12.Jasandra Joseph, 15.Afiyah Cornwall,
Coach: Stephan De Four
Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying
(Monday 30 September)
St Kitts and Nevis 0, Dominican Republic 0 at Ato Boldon Stadium;
Aruba 0, Trinidad and Tobago 3 (Nia Walcott 2, Afiyah Cornwall 73, Janine Francois 90+1) at Ato Boldon Stadium;
(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 and Barbuda 0, Dominican Republic 2 at Ato Boldon Stadium;
Aruba 1, St Kitts and Nevis 6 at Ato Boldon Stadium;
(Sunday 6 October)
Antigua and Barbuda 2, Aruba 1 at Ato Boldon Stadium;
Trinidad and Tobago 1 (Dennecia Prince 59), St Kitts and Nevis 4 (Ellie Stokes 6, Phoenitia Browne 14 pen, 23, 83) at Ato Boldon Stadium.
(Tuesday 8 October)
St Kitts and Nevis vs Antigua and Barbuda, 2.30pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;
Trinidad and Tobago vs Dominican Republic, 5pm, Ato Boldon Stadium.