Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Under-20 Team head coach Jason Spence has identified his outfit’s organisation and offensive transition as two key areas that they will try to address in tomorrow’s Concacaf U-20 Championship affair against St Kitts and Nevis in San Cristóbal.
The junior Women Soca Warriors face the ‘Sugar Girlz’ from 4pm in the first of a Group G double-header, with Canada and El Salvador squaring off from 7pm. Trinidad and Tobago lost 0-3 to El Salvador yesterday while St Kitts and Nevis were routed 7-0 by Canada.
Only the cellar-placed team will fail to advance from Group G and Spence’s troops can book their place in the knockout stage with a win tomorrow—or a draw once they maintain a superior goal difference over their fellow Caribbean nation.
But it will require a drastically improved performance by Trinidad and Tobago, who were totally outplayed by El Salvador. ESPN stats noted that on Friday the Central American nation had 43 shots with 18 on target as compared with six and two respectively for T&T.
Spence acknowledged that his team had not fared as well as he would have liked against El Salvador’s high defensive press but said he hopes for a better showing tomorrow.
“It did give us some trouble, which we have already discussed and, as best we can, we have addressed it,” said Spence. “However there is only so much which can be done in one hour, so we take it game by game. [Tomorrow we hope to be] better organised with more numbers in offence and with better offensive transition.”
The short time-frame that the national youth coach had, he feels, was critical. Spence only got his full team together for the first time with barely 48 hours to go before kick-off.
“With one training session for the stipulated one-hour time slot before the El Salvador game since our arrival,” he told Wired868, “and coming up against a team who has been preparing for 14 months with 18 camps, there is only so much I can do.
“The El Salvador game allowed us to assess the team and make changes, which we believe will make a more offensive impact against St Kitts and Nevis.”
Two years ago, Trinidad and Tobago had a 10-day camp with three practice matches before going on to advance to the quarterfinal stage of the Concacaf Women’s Under-20 Championship.
Had Spence not wanted similar preparation for his squad from the current Fifa-appointed normalisation committee?
“There were plans prior [for] competitive [warm-up] matches; however, the logistics didn’t allow for it to happen,” he said, without explaining what logistical issues he was referring to. “The show has to go on and we are here to do our best to get the result to take us to the next phase, which gives us more time to keep preparing for each game.
“Our next game is the most important at this time.”
Trinidad and Tobago have no injuries at present although Spence said his medical personnel had a long night looking after players.
There were eight US-based players in the Warriors starting team on Friday. Wingers Tori Paul and Jhelysse Anthony and central midfielder Marley Walker were all born in the States while goalkeeper Akyla Walcott, defenders Latifha Pascall and Chrissy Mitchell and midfielders Sarah De Gannes and Maria-Frances Serrant earned scholarships there from Trinidad.
Spence credited the overseas players for giving his team a ‘boost’. But, again, he pointed to the short time-frame he had had to work with the squad.
“Today we had our second session and were able to make some adjustments to how we intend to play tomorrow,” said Spence.
Now, it is do or die. The teenaged Women Soca Warriors will hope to find another gear when it counts.
(Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Under-20 Team)
Goalkeepers: 1.Akyla Walcott (Essex County College—USA), 16.Chelsea Ramnauth (Police FC), 18.Aaliyah Alexander (Jewels FC);
Defenders: 2.Ashante Wilson-Campbell (Jewels FC), 3.Moenesa Mejias (Trincity Nationals), 4.Latifha Pascall (Navaro College—USA), 5.Derisha Bristol (Jewels FC), 6.Chrissy Mitchell (Southwestern Christian University—USA), 30.Charlize Hood (Police FC);
Midfielders: 7.Sarah De Gannes (Brewton-Parker College—USA), 8.Marley Walker (Charleston Soccer Club—USA), 10.Maria-Frances Serrant (Corban University—USA), 13.Darrianne Henry (Jewels FC), 14.Lellian Selvon (Trincity Nationals), 31.Aaliyah Trim (FC Ginga);
Attackers: 9.Tori Paul (University of Maryland—USA), 15.Ternia St Clair (UTT Patriots), 12.Celine Loraine (Jewels FC), 17.Jhelysse Anthony, 19.Shurelia Mendez (both unattached).
Staff: Jason Spence (head coach), Trevor Nottingham (goalkeeper coach), Desiree Sarjeant (assistant coach), Vernetta Flanders (manager), Donna-Marie Wickham (therapist), Ashley Alonso (trainer), Natalie Harper (equipment manager), Kristin Fung (team doctor).
Concacaf Women’s Under-20 Championship results
(25 February 2022)
Trinidad and Tobago 0, El Salvador 3 (Lesly Calderón 23, Josseline Uribe 43, Linda Guillén 86) at Estadio Panamericano, San Cristóbal;
Canada 7 (Nikayla Small 9, 33, Olivia Smith 17, 30, Holly Ward 21, 44, Keera Melenhorst 89), St Kitts and Nevis 0 at Estadio Panamericano, San Cristóbal.
Trinidad and Tobago vs St Kitts and Nevis, 4pm, Estadio Panamericano, San Cristóbal;
El Salvador v Canada, 7pm, Estadio Panamericano, San Cristóbal.
El Salvador v St Kitts and Nevis, 4pm, Estadio Panamericano, San Cristóbal;
Trinidad and Tobago vs Canada, 7pm, 1 March, Estadio Panamericano, San Cristóbal.