Venezuela got exactly what they wanted from a two-match international friendly series against Trinidad and Tobago; an opening match to give their younger, upcoming players experience, before adjusting, strengthening up and levelling the series at 1-1.
On Tuesday night, the Soca Princesses conceded two “soft” goals on the way to losing 2-0 at the Ato Boldon Stadium. Missing a few key players, T&T did not look as effective as on Sunday when winning the first match by a 5-0 margin .
The “Violas” got an early 36th minute lead through 17-year-old striker Gabriel Garcia, when T&T goalie Kimika Forbes dived over a bouncing ball, when the striker volleyed to goal after chesting a cross-ball. Garcia had also scored four goals in Venezuela’s opening 9-0 victory over a local All-Star team on Friday, and was also joint Golden Boot winner at the 2014 FIFA Under-17 women’s World Cup with six goals.
Carla Carvahlo, who did not start in the first match, then gave the Venezuela women a second goal four minutes into injury time, to seal victory. Carvahlo beat goalie Forbes to a rebound, following a 35 metre free-kick, which struck the crossbar and the keeper, before rebounding into play.
The Venezuelans are preparing for the Ecuador Copa South America in September, a qualifier which offers two automatic World Cup spots to the 2015 Canada FIFA Women’s World Cup and a third playoff spot against a team from the CONCACAF Zone in which Trinidad and Tobago compete.
The Venezuelans four matches while in Trinidad and Tobago, twice against the national team and twice against a Women’s League Football (WOLF) All Star team.
On Saturday, theVenezuelans were also treated to a reception by Ambassador Coromoto Godoy at the Venezuelan Embassy.
Stand-in T&T coach Jason Spence felt the difference between Tuesday and Sunday’s 5-0 win over the Venezuelans, was a lack of fitness by the local team who had not played an international match in 18 months. In contrast, Venezuela played the same bunch that had been involved in South American Under-20 qualifying in January and the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in March, where they finished fourth after losing a penalty shootout to Italy and becoming the first South American team to reach the semis. The core will also form the Venezuelan national women’s team for upcoming World Cup qualifiers.
“Clearly what showed up in our second game was our lack of fitness,” stated St Ann’s Rangers coach Spence , who was in charge for the two matches.
“Coming out of the fitness issues was some injuries. That is why you didn’t see captain Maylee Attin Johnson. You didn’t see Shennell Henry, the young winger from the Under-20 team. You also didn’t see Tasha St Louis because they all succumbed to some injury or the other, while “Ya Ya” (Kennya Cordner) pulled up within 15 minutes.”
Spence felt the enthusiasm of playing for the first time in 18 months, good individual play and experience was responsible for the Soca Princesses’ dominant performance in the first match.
However, the Venezuelans made adjustments and kept their defenders at home rather than in attack like in the opening match. It therefore restricted the penetrative power of the T&T team without playmakers Attin-Johnson and St Louis.
The Venezuelans are clearly very organised,’ Spence said. “Even in our 5-0 win, they stayed organised.”