THE TRINIDAD and Tobago Women’s Under-17 football team will be looking to make the most of their three-match series away to Panama, which will see them undergo their first overseas training camp ahead of forthcoming CONCACAF competitions.
The TT team will leave for Panama City tomorrow and will play the hosts on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
TT are through to the Concacaf Championship which will kick off with a group stage, as one of the top-ranked 16 participating teams, based on the Concacaf Women’s Under-17 ranking as of July 2018. These teams will be sorted into four groups (E, F, G and H). After round-robin play, the top three finishers in each of the groups will join the winners of Groups A, B, C and D (from the qualifiers) in the round of 16.
The 16 teams participating in the group stage of the Concacaf Championship are (in alphabetical order): Bermuda, Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico, TT and United States.
Seattle-based attacking midfielder Annika Daniel spoke about this week’s trip, describing it as the ideal opportunity for the team to gain some match practice away from home.
“I’m very excited for it and I think it will help a lot with our preparations for the tournament in the next few months,” Daniel said.
“Panama is going to be a challenge but this is something we have to overcome and it’s just about getting more practice games to try out the things we have been working on in practice with more pressure. It’s a safe way to test the way we play.”
Daniel was a member of the TT Under-15 team at the Concacaf U-15 Championship in 2016. “I am excited because I like travelling. I would like to play in my home country but going to Panama is a great opportunity to expand the way I think and experience a different culture.
This is very important as travelling together helps a team bond even more so than staying in camp together because when you are in a foreign country you have to stick together and learn together. It’s important for the team to connect there.
“Although they couldn’t come here, it’s good that we are going. It’s an honour to represent my country and I feel very privileged to be playing with these girls and to say I’ve represented my country at such a young age. It’s the most exciting thing for me.”
Jessica Harragin of Queen’s Park was also elated with the news of the overseas camp.
“Well I think playing any team is a good opportunity for us and getting to play a team like Panama is even better. Its good to play in front of our crowd but I also think it’s also a good opportunity to showcase ourselves away from home and show how good we are as a team. It is one thing to play on your home soil but is a totally different thing to get used to playing in conditions away from home.
“The whole team is really looking forward it because we had some disappointments with the games being cancelled here but now we have a trip with matches that is certain and it’s a great opportunity for us to go there for this training camp.”
The knockout stage of the CONCACAF competition – round of 16, quarterfinals, semifinals and final – will be played in its entirety in a single match elimination format, with the finalists and third place finisher automatically qualifying for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2020 in India.
Coach Stefan De Four added, “Our ambition is of course to go all the way. We have these games which be valuable to the preparations and then we head into competition where our next aim will be to make it through to the knockout phase and take it from there. It’s all a step by step process.”