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Young Soca Princesses prepare for Cayman tournament

IZLER BROWN, the Trinidad and Tobago national under-20 women’s football coach, thinks the junior “Soca Princesses” are capable of winning their two opening matches and qualifying for the semi-finals at the 2014 CONCACAF Under-20 Women’s Championship.
For a second time in four days, the T&T junior team face the national senior women’s team in a scrimmage (today). They fly to Florida (USA) tomorrow for a training camp, where they will play two warm-up matches against college teams, before heading off to Cayman Islands for the tournament from January 9-19. The top three CONCACAF teams will qualify for the Canada 2014 FIFA Under 20 World Cup.
T&T open the CONCACAF Championship on January 10 against Central American champions Honduras, before playing hosts Cayman Islands on January 12 and Mexico on January 14. Brown hasn’t seen Honduras, but expects them to play possession football like most Central American teams. They have met Cayman Islands before, who should have several US-based players in their squad. Mexico is the class act of the group, and the most difficult match.
“Our game plan will be to get six points from the first two games. That will more or less put us into the big four,” the T&T head coach said. “Win the first game, win the second game and then we deal with Mexico.”
Match preparation has been far from ideal, as the team were restricted to a two-match series against the senior national women. The senior Soca Princesses won the first 6-0 on Friday at Hasely Crawford Stadium. Maylee Attin Johnson gave the senior team a 1-0 first half lead, before Jo Marie Lewis made it 2-0 after finishing off a pass from Attin Johnson.
Kennya Cordner got up to convert a penalty she also won for 3-0 lead, before coming off with a knock. Tasha St Louis put away a pass from Jo Marie Lewis for 4-0, before substitute striker Dernell Mascal got two late goals. Mascal put a long chip over goalkeeper Tenesha Palmer following an errant backward defender’s header, and got a second after capitalising on indecisive defending.
“We had a good first half when we were only down one-nil. We were a little too relaxed in the second half and not focused enough. We got some soft goals,” Brown said. “But, it was tremendous to get this kind of game. We played against a senior team (that) moves the ball extremely well, and we will need some of that experience in the tournament we are going to play.”
Brown hopes for further improvement when the T&T young women arrive in Florida, where they will be joined by five United States and Canada-based players of T&T parentage. Americans Liana Hinds and Brianna Ryce both represented T&T at the 2010 FIFA Under-17 women World Cup hosted by Trinidad and Tobago. Corel Carmichael (USA), Sawsha Woznuk (Canada) and Donika Murray (Canada) are also in the team. Canadian Emma Abdul, a member of the 2010 team, is a reserve. The team has two good ‘keepers in Under-17 World Cup goalie Keri Myers and Tenesha Palmer.
“We have some foreign players that will join the team in Miami. These players will assist us in some of the weaker areas where we need to strengthen,” Brown said. “We are trying to be as ready as possible given the scenario we are in (funding problems).”
The T&T national coach feels the T&T team will be among the fastest in the tournament, which she hopes will be a plus for her charges.
“We have a good pace. We have strong players who can kick the ball well. We have a strong core of players from the Under-17 World Cup, which will help tremendously. They’re not intimidated by the international fanfare. So, this has helped tremendously...our preparation not being what we wanted it to be.”

T&T UNDER-2O WOMEN’S SQUAD:
Keri Myers (Real Dimension), Tenesha Palmer (goalkeepers), Jonelle Warrick, Otisha, Khadisha Debesette, Daniella Findley, Adeka Spence, Liana Hinds (USA), Khadidra Debesette, Naiomie Guerra, Shanisa Camejo, Patrice Campbell, Shenelle Henry, Summer Arjoon, Donika Murray (Canada), Tsaianne Leander, Brianna Ryce (USA), Anique Walker, Corel Carmichael (USA), Sawsha Woznuk ( Canada).
Reserves: Tkeyah Phillip, Akilah Sparks, Emma Abdul (Canada).
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