Technical Director of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association Anton Corneal believes that this country’s Under 20 Women’s team stands a a fair chance of advancing from Group A and into the semi-finals of the upcoming CONCACAF Under 20 Women’s Championship.
T&T faces Haiti from 7:30pm on January 18th at the Ato Boldon Stadium in the second game of a double header which sees fellow Group A contenders Canada and Costa Rica clashing from 5pm as the battle for three qualifying spots for the 2018 FIFA Under 20 Women’s World Cup commences at the TTFA Home of Football.
Corneal is optimistic about T&T’s chances saying that the Jamaal Shabazz-coached outfit will have to take each game on its own merit.
“I think playing at home is going to serve us well. It’s a big plus to have the fans as our twelfth man for a tournament of this nature,” Corneal told TTFA Media. “History has shown that this helps and for us as well, we have demonstrated a good appetite and ability in these tournaments, case in point the 2014 qualification which we narrowly missed out in the third place playoff. I think this time if we can play to our potential then we could have the edge with home advantage,” Corneal added.
Assessing the Group, Corneal says that Canada, though being the seeded team and favourites, can be broken down on the day.
“The group itself is a good one. Haiti has had very good development and have made steady progress with a lot of emphasis also on their women’s programme which has maybe taken them ahead of the other Caribbean nations. They have a facility which sees the girls live and go to school as well as train on a daily basis over an extended period, years as a matter of fact. So they will come here to prove they are no push overs. Costa Rica on the other hand is a game which can go either way once we play to our potential,” Corneal said.
“It is unrealistic to say that we do not have a good chance and matter of fact, we do have a good chance to qualify for the World Cup. Our girls will have to approach this tournament in a way where every minute of every game is important to them. We need to play right through to the whistle especially against teams like Costa Rica and Haiti because of how they play. We have to let them know that we are at home and put the pressure on them constantly to let them be fully aware that they are playing outside of their country and that we do not intend to let up at any point in the match,” Corneal added.
With regards to facing Canada, he mentioned, “Canada is the seeded team in the tournament and they have a very good women’s programme and rich history in women’s football. But they can tend to fluctuate some times and we will have to try to capitalize on that.
Touching on T&T’s readiness, he continued, “We have done a lot of preparation both in screening and actual training sessions. While we may not have played a lot of international matches, this may be a blessing in disguise as we got to play our senior women’s team in a couple of very good matches. We got to play against for players who were better physically and faster as well as more experienced. They were able to stretch our under 20 players a bit more in both games.
“For us, it is not farfetched by any means in terms of us qualifying out of the group and then securing on the spots available for the World Cup once we are into the semi-final stage. But we have to be able to play hard throughout and keep believing especially knowing that nothing will be handed to us in this tournament,” Corneal stated.
Tickets for the Group Phase double headers are priced at $40 for both covered and uncovered sections. The other competing teams in Group B include United States, Jamaica, Mexico and Nicaragua. Action in that group gets going on January 19th.