Coach of Trinidad and Tobago Jamaal Shabazz is expecting a fierce battle against fellow Caribbean opponents Haiti when the CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Football Championship kicks off, today.
TT will face Haiti in Group A in the second match of a double header at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva from 6.30 pm. The first match will see Costa Rica play Canada from 4 pm at the same venue.
TT will be aiming for a top three finish in the eight-team tournament to qualify for the FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup in France later this year.
At a press conference at the Ato Boldon Stadium yesterday, Shabazz said he expects a tough battle as is the norm when Caribbean teams square off. “I think it is going to be a (fierce) game (because) two Caribbean teams usually go at each other. Caribbean teams are usually very savage with each other…we expect a game that is toe to toe with the Haitians.”
The TT coach said he is not going to concentrate on how the Haitians play, but focus on the TT style of play. Shabazz said, “We have seen them play, but, realistically it is a game where we are going to play our game and they are going to play their game.
For us, in the women’s football at Under-20 level, it is a gunslinger’s game. We slug it out with them, they slug it out with us. We bring to the table what we bring, they bring to the table what they bring. (It will be) that kind of showdown.”
TT captain Natisha John said the team is anticipating today’s match.
“We are quite ecstatic and excited. The score cannot be predicted, but we are confident and we want to make everybody proud,” John said.
John says she will try to keep her team level headed and not let the team’s excitement get the better of them. John said, “(I need) to bring motivation and calmness to the team. We have to keep our heads on because we are on the verge of making history in Trinidad and Tobago.
I have to gather the team and speak to them one by one. (I have) to get them to think about what their roles will be – attacking and defensively. (I have) to calm their minds and get them well rested and prepared for tomorrow (today).”
Shabazz is counting on the TT public to come out in their numbers as home advantage is crucial in the tournament. “I think it will be important for the fans to come out and show that commitment to the team and to the country, and help us to do our part as well because the support is important when you playing at home, it can make a difference.”
After today’s match TT will play Canada on Saturday at 6.30 pm, before playing their final group match against Costa Rica on Monday at 6.30 pm. The entire tournament will be held at the Ato Boldon Stadium.