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Sunday 23 September 2018
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Shabazz: U-20 tourney a litmus test for TT

Trinidad and Tobago’s Raynicia Charles, right, on the ball against Andrew De Gannes in a friendly match between the national women’s Under-20 team vs a North U-15 boys team at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Raynicia Charles, right, on the ball against Andrew De Gannes in a friendly match between the national women’s Under-20 team vs a North U-15 boys team at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo.

The 2018 CONCACAF Under-20 Women Championships could be the kick that local football needs to change its fortunes in regional competition in terms of hosting rights and success on the field of play.

This was the view expressed by Trinidad and Tobago women’s coach Jamaal Shabazz as he wrapped up the 2017 calendar year which has been extremely hectic with programmes for the Under-17s, Under-20s and the senior women.

The Under-20s will break camp this weekend before resuming early in 2018 for the CONCACAF Championship which will be staged at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva from January 18-28.

According to Shabazz, TT has a fantastic opportunity to prove its worth as hosting nation for premier CONCACAF events.

“Trinidad and Tobago, under the last FIFA and CONCACAF from (Jack) Warner days, have always hosted big events but after that period, our country was literally in the dog house,” said Shabazz.

“But now we have seen a renaissance where we have grown in confidence again and the authorities in CONCACAF have given us that opportunity to host this tournament.”

Shabazz added, “This a big tournament as it qualifies three teams for the Women’s Under-20 World Cup (in France in 2018) and it is a golden opportunity for the public of Trinidad and Tobago to come out and support women’s football and women’s athletes generally.

“If we produce the crowds and have a passionate presence by the people and a participating one, I think this will be good in terms of us hosting future tournaments,” he continued.

TT face Haiti on January 18 but will face expected tougher opponents in Canada and Costa Rica in the remaining Group A matches. For Shabazz, it is important that neither of these teams is able to enjoy a walk in the park vs TT.

“Traditionally, in women’s football, people always give the three points to USA, Canada and Mexico and now Costs Rica,” Shabazz said. “Now we are saying that with our preparations, these teams have got to work for their points.

Of course we would like to have friendly internationals outside of the senior team, but the the funding is not there for us and we are preparing with limited resources. With a big heart and where we lack with resources, we want to make up with effort and attitude.

“For these teams that will come here, we want them to work for their points because by God, by Allah, we are also going to work for our points,” Shabazz ended.

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