Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Under-20 Team head coach Richard Hood was left with a stark view of his squad’s limitations today, as they fell 4-1 in an international friendly against the Dominican Republic in San Cristóbal.
The fixture was the first of three warm-up games for the young Women Soca Warriors, who are preparing for the 2020 Concacaf Under-20 Championship. Their first competitive match is against St Kitts and Nevis on 22 February.
Trinidad and Tobago opened the scoring through flanker Maria Frances-Serrant in the first half. But there was little to cheer thereafter for Hood, as the host team promptly equalised before scoring three times in the second half.
“Generally speaking, throughout the game we had a lack of tactical awareness—both offensively and defensively,” Hood told Wired868. “It was not what we were looking for, in terms of applying pressure with cover and stuff like that. We have a lot of work to do to organise the team in the way we want to play, both offensively and defensively.”
Hood had only 16 players available today as United States-based players K’lil Keshwar, Cayla McFarlane and Arnelle Douglas were late joining the camp while Alexcia Ali, the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) 2019 MVP, injured her ankle during training on Thursday and did not feature.
“We had a bit of a problem acclimatising,” said Hood. “We were 1,000 feet [above sea level] and girls were having breathing problems in training. Maybe it was a factor today because the game played at 11am so the conditions were hot as well.”
One positive for Hood was an encouraging performance by former Carapichaima East Secondary stand-out, Afiyah Cornwall, who started on top at the tip of a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Cornwall has often played as a flanker at national youth level but Hood, who is also the Police FC head coach, is so loath to move her now that he is considering a change in formation.
“From what I have seen, I think [Cornwall] is a certainty to start on top,” said Hood. “Maybe I might use McFarlane there with her, which would mean a change in formation. Based on what I’ve heard, [McFarlane] is a big, strong striker who can bully defences and offers us a threat in the air. But Cornwall has been magnificent in the last couple of days, so I want to use her up there.”
Trinidad and Tobago will play the Puerto Rico National Under-20s in another training match on Monday before their final dress rehearsal against semi-professional women’s team, Abril LDF, on Wednesday 19 February.
“We will be doing a lot of fitness work and work on our defensive structure and offensive mobility,” said Hood.
(Team x Dominican Republic)
Trinidad and Tobago U-20 (4-2-3-1): Chelsea Ramnauth (GK); Lathifa Pascall, Shalisha King, Tsian Fernandez, Nathifa Hackshaw; Sarah De Gannes, Megan Rampersad; Aaliyah Prince, Chrissy Mitchell, Maria Frances-Serrant; Afiyah Cornwall.
Substitutes: Sydney Boisselle, Roshun Williams, Aaliyah Pascall, Sydni Greaves, Tori Paul.
Unavailable: K’lil Keshwar (GK), Cayla McFarlane, Arnelle Douglas.
Injured: Alexcia Ali.
Coach: Richard Hood