“I think we all realise that this is our best chance to qualify out of a CONCACAF region for a World Cup and I know it’s going to be a very highly-contested (tournament).”
Trinidad and Tobago women’s senior team captain Maylee Attin-Johnson was in no doubt yesterday about what is at stake for her side in the Caribbean Football Union’s Women’s Caribbean Cup qualifiers which begin today at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
The top four teams from the Caribbean Cup will move forward to the final phase of CONCACAF qualifying in January next year in the United States. But from that series, three sides will move on automatically to the Women’s World Cup to be held next year in Canada, while a fourth team will enter a playoff.
Yesterday, at the launch of the tournament at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Attin-Johnson expressed confidence that her team could take a positive step towards their goal by winning the Caribbean Cup.
“We believe that we are the number one in the Caribbean and the target is on our back and we gonna hold ourselves accountable to come out with the Cup,” she told the audience, which included members of teams in Group A of the competition.
“I think it’s important that we do that so that we can bring awareness, marketability and sustainability to women’s football in Trinidad and Tobago and try and garner support from corporate Trinidad, from the government, as well as the TTFA. But most importantly, we just looking forward to getting the games underway,” Attin-Johnson added.
The T&T women have not played competitive matches since the 2011 Pan American Games. Their most recent noncompetitive outing was a two-game friendly series against Venezuela. On Sunday, they returned from a training camp in Houston, Texas, in the USA under new head coach Randy Waldrum. The team left later than scheduled because of financial constraints and visa problems then eliminated Patrice Campbell and Natasha St Louis, who were unable to attend the camp.
However, Attin-Johnson said the time together was important for the squad.
“For us the most important thing was preparation and we got that,” she said. “I think we are going to go into this well prepared and very much confident and I think what we got (in Houston) was quality training sessions, things that we haven’t done in over two years; new things that we have learned.”
Speaking about the influence of coach Waldrum, the T&T skipper said: “The coach Randy has a very high IQ for football and his knowledge is vast, so we gonna lean on that. Yes, he didn’t have a lot of time with us, but I think with our experience and his intelligence, we gonna go through this tournament and hopefully get better preparation for the CONCACAF (Final Round).”
T&T will begin their campaign in Group B tomorrow against St Kitts/Nevis in the second match of a Hasely Crawford Stadium double-header from 7.15pm. In the first game, Antigua/Barbuda tackle Martinique from 5pm.
Today, Jamaica will open the tournament against Puerto Rico from 5pm at the Ato Boldon, while in the second game, one of the tournament favourites, Haiti, tackle Bermuda from 7.15.