STEPHAN DE FOUR, coach of the TT women football team, promises that his squad will put up a fight against the Dominican Republic today, in their final match of the Concacaf Women Olympic Qualifying Championship Caribbean Zone Group A.
TT were spanked 4-1 by St Kitts/Nevis, on Sunday, in the latter game of a double-header, at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva. Antigua/Barbuda pipped Aruba 2-1 in the earlier meeting.
St Kitts/Nevis, who lead the group with seven points (and a goal difference of plus-eight) will meet Antigua/Barbuda (fourth placed with three points) in the first of back-to-back games at Couva today, from 2.30 pm, with TT (six points) opposing the Dominican Republic (seven points) from 5 pm.
A St Kitts/Nevis victory will guarantee them top spot in Group A and a place in the 2020 Concacaf Women Olympic Qualifying Championship (venue and dates are yet to be determined).
TT will have to beat the Dominican Republic and hope that St Kitts/Nevis fail to defeat Antigua/Barbuda in order to finish first in this group.
In Sunday’s match, St Kitts/Nevis broke the deadlock in the sixth minute courtesy Ellie Stokes, who collected a pass from midfield, held off her marker and slotted a right-footed shot to the right of goalkeeper Kimika Forbes.
Centre forward Phoenitia Browne extended the lead in the 13th, with a penalty to the left of Forbes after a handle-ball infringement.
Ten minutes later, Browne netted St Kitts/Nevis’ third, with an opportunistic strike from the left which went in, via the body of Forbes.
Dennesia Prince pulled one back for TT in the 59th, with a right-footed strike, from the edge of the penalty box, which rebounded off the bar and landed over the goalline.
But Browne ensured that there was no way back for the hosts when she completed her hat-trick in the 84th, after chipping a right-footed effort over the advancing Forbes.
Looking ahead to today’s match against the Dominican Republic, De Four said, “We’re going to come out and fight it. We’re not going to just lay down.”
During the post-game media conference on Sunday, De Four said, “We have a good resilient group. I told them we’re finishing the tournament strong.”
Asked what will be next for the team if they fail to progress today, De Four responded, “This is a building phase for us. We just have to keep getting players involved, get more games and keep the players together.”
De Four lamented the lack of intensity by the TT team during the early stages of Sunday’s match.
“It’s not the result we wanted,” said De Four, who was appointed TT women coach in June. “We started the game very slow.
“It’s a team that’s rebuilding so we’re trying to give every player a chance to play,” he added. “We have a lot of youngsters in the team, mixed with senior players. We got caught with some easy goals in the beginning and, to go three goals down that easily, it’s very difficult to get out of it.”
TT defeated Aruba in their first match 3-0 last Monday and Antigua/Barbuda 5-0 on Wednesday.
Deborah Baclawski, the St Kitts/Nevis coach, commented, “I’m very proud of the team for their discipline. We knew that TT would be a tough opponent. We watched their first two games and we knew that they would bring everything to us. I’m proud of our team for their organisation and perseverance.”
Concerning today’s contest against Antigua/Barbuda, Baclawski said, “I have to keep reminding them that they have a game (today). We have to make sure that we remain focussed.”