Trinidad and Tobago’s Senior Women will start their final round CONCACAF Women’s Championship campaign against Panama with a Group A match at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park at 5 p.m. on Thursday.
The T&T team will be boosted by the arrival of three players ahead of the match on Thursday from Port of Spain in prolific goalscorer Kayla Taylor and experienced duo Rhea Belgrave and Ayana Russell. All three players obtained their US visas on Wednesday and departed for North Carolina on Wednesday night with team manager Jinelle James.
“All three players received their US visas today and we’re pleased to say they will be on the flight tonight and will arrive at the team camp early on Thursday,” James told TTFA Media. The rest of the squad trained on Tuesday and was expected to have a session at the match venue on Wednesday evening.
T&T, which is coached by Shawn Cooper and captained by midfielder Tasha St Louis, is the only Caribbean team to participate in every CONCACAF Women’s Championship and finished second to Jamaica in the 2018 final Caribbean qualifying round.
Taylor was the top scorer in the 2018 Caribbean qualifiers for the CWC (7 goals). She scored in each game in the Final Round of the Caribbean Zone (hat-trick vs. Cuba, brace vs. Antigua and Barbuda, and a goal vs. Mexico and Bermuda). T&T’s other prolific goalscorer Kennya Cordner was this ocuntry’s top scorer in the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s USA Championship; scoring three goals (one vs. Haiti and Guatemala in the Group A Group Stage and another goal vs. Mexico in extratime defeat on 10/26/14, for the 3rd place). She scored the last two goals against Bermuda in the Final Round of the Caribbean Zone (she finished with three goals).
Panama, coached by former Panamanian international Amarelis De Merahe,finished second behind Costa Rica in Central American qualifying. They booked their spot in the final eight, overcoming a 2-1 deficit to register a 6-2 victory over El Salvador as Kenia Rangel connected for a second-half hat-trick. Karla Riley also scored three qualifying goals.
In the only meeting between the two countries at the 2002 CONCACAF Championship, Panama finished 4-2 winners with current captain Tasha St Louis being one of the scorers alongside Maylee Attin-Johnson. Both teams also played two friendlies in Couva in March with Panama winning the first encounter 2-1 and the second match finishing 1-1.
Jamaica Odette Hamilton will be the match referee with fellow Jamaicans Princess Brown and Stephanie Yee Sing serving as the assistants.
The United States and Mexico meet in the second game of the doubleheader.