The president of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) has urged members of the national women’s senior team, the Women Soca Warriors, to be proud even in the face of being knocked out of World Cup qualifying.
“We did not qualify for the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada, but we can certainly hold our heads high as a team and as a nation. Now is not a time for regrets,” TTFA president and Port of Spain Mayor Raymond Tim Kee said via a media release, yesterday. ‘’We were defeated by Ecuador and we did not cross the final hurdle, in the most unfortunate way, but that’s sport. Sometimes the better team loses.”
Tim Kee admitted that the World Cup qualifying journey was a challenging one. But stated that in the face of difficulty the team persevered, and won the hearts of the nation. “You reignited that unity and passion we shared as a country in 2005/2006 and some of our previous World Cup
Qualifying matches at the same venue in Port of Spain, and you had the rest of the country glued to their television sets. You are our national heroes,” Tim Kee said. “We have proven that we are a force in CONCACAF.
‘’We need now to affirm ourselves as a force in women’s world football. We clearly have the talent, and we, the administrators need to ensure that the right structures, people and resources are in place to nurture and hone that talent,” Tim Kee said. “Like you, we at the TTFA must learn from the experiences of this journey, and take steps to ensure that we are all better equipped and prepared for future contests.”

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The 20 players selected for the “Women Soca Warriors” squad to face Ecuador tomorrow, will be announced publicly this morning, a day before the all important second leg Fifa Women’s World Cup qualifier.

The squad was originally expected to be announced some time between Friday night and Saturday morning, but this was delayed to allow assistant coaches, Ben Waldrum and John Dewitt a further look at the squad. Both arrived in the country on Saturday night.

The 22 players, who were named to train for the fixture over a week ago, conducted their final preparation session at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, yesterday. The T&T players, along with the Ecuador team returns to the match venue today for one hour each, as stipulated by Fifa.

Ecuador’s players and technical staff members arrived in Trinidad on Saturday afternoon. Both will attempt to seal their first ever qualification for the Fifa Women’s World Cup. The first leg finished goalless early last month in Quito, setting up a second leg thriller in Port-of-Spain.

Due to the away goal rule, Ecuador will advance with a win or a draw by any result, apart from a goalless one. On the other end, T&T will need to win in regulation time, extra time, or on a penalty shoot-out, if the match again ends goalless.

Ecuador arrived in T&T on Saturday and enjoyed two training sessions. Ecuador captain Ligia Moreira said the team approach would be to try to manage the game and control the ball, “because we know that they will go with everything to attack”.

The first leg in Quito, Ecuador, which ended goalless meant T&T would have to score in Port-of-Spain in order to qualify for Canada, but any draw other than a goalless result or a win for Ecuador, would put the South Americans through to their inaugural appearance on the big stage.

“We have analyzed all possible scenarios and one of them is criminal, the end of the game and 0-0 overtime,” said Vanessa Arauz, Ecuadorian coach, who insisted that her team must remain calm, but capitalise on all opportunities to score. She has mentioned, that set pieces and penalties can be crucial to the fixture and has put particular emphasis on such plays.

“We know the physical potential they have,” she cautioned.

Tickets still available

 

According to TTFA director of communications, Shaun Fuentes, between 12,000-14,000 tickets have been purchased. Some venues have sold out since tickets went on sale, last week, but have been replenished. They are priced at $100 (uncovered) and $200 (covered). Children under the age of 12 are free but must walk with a ticket which is available at Kenny’s Sports Centre and The Fan Club. Two can be claimed with the purchase of one adult ticket. Tickets are also available at All Out Restaurant, Heritage Sports in Scarborough, Ramsingh’s in Couva, Econo Supermarket in Sangre Grande and the Southern Football Association in Skinner Park, San Fernando.​

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The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) wishes to clarify that at an emergency executive committee meeting called by TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee on Sunday, the committee agreed to accept Darren Millien’s offer to voluntarily withdraw his services until the issues surrounding the Argentina tour have been resolved.

Millien stressed that his decision in no way reflects an admission or acceptance of guilt in this matter but, allows for due process to take place.

Tim Kee said, “Mr Millien met with me on Friday November 28, when we had a frank and open discussion, during which he voluntarily offered to withdraw his services until the matter has been satisfactorily resolved.”

The TTFA wishes to reaffirm its commitment to due process in the resolution of the matter.

The TTFA had also announced, the reconfiguration of General Secretary, Sheldon Phillips’ role by including William Wallace to lead government relations and team management functions.

Former WIPA president Dinanath Ramnarine was also named as a consultant to lead efforts to assist the TTFA with its governance and management reform and to review and restructure organisational operations.

The local football governing body reiterated the need to improve the governance structure of the TTFA in line with best practices.

Tim Kee was full of praise of the changes, saying, “The TTFA is pleased to have someone of Mr Ramnarine’s caliber as part of its reformation effort. Dinanath is a hard-working individual who brings to the table a wealth of experience in sports administration and governance.”

Ramnarine, who has been a member of the TTFA’s independent review commission, also played a key role in the mediation of the settlement of the outstanding payments to the 2006 World Cup players.

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AYANA DYETTE and Nancy Joseph finished in seventh position in the Central American and the Caribbean (CAC) Beach Volleyball Tournament on Saturday night in Veracruz, Mexico. There were also 16 pairs in the men’s competition and fellow Trinidad and Tobago players Fabian Whitfield and Daneil Williams ended up 11th.
After losing in the quarterfinals the day before, Joseph and Dyette began a playoff for fifth place, but were beaten 21-19, 21-11 in 36 minutes by the pair from Guatemala and then defeated a duo from St Kitts/Nevis 21-18, 23-21 in just under half-hour for seventh. This country’s top-ranked women ended the tournament just like they started it as they beat pairs from Barbados and Honduras on Wednesday to book their place in the last eight.
Dyette and Joseph, unbeaten from eight tournaments at home this year, came up against tournament favourites Martha Revuelta and Bibiana Candelas of Mexico the next day and lost in straight sets in the battle to determine the group winners.
And in Friday’s quarters, they also failed to win a set against another seeded pair, Karen Cope and Natalia Alfaro of Costa Rica. Dyette, competing in her second straight CAC Games, finished in the top three in three of the individual categories.
The attacking player was second in total points with 96, just two behind Pamela Jaime of the Dominican Republic. Dyette also had 22 winners to place third in the service category and she also finished third in kills with 74, just four less than leader Revuelta.
After crushing Christopher Walters and Ryck McKenzte 21-9, 21-12 when the tournament served off Wednesday, Williams and Whitfield were nosed out 21-17, 11-21, 16-14 in 46 minutes by the Jamaicans in their first match in the playoff for ninth place on Saturday.
However the “Toco Boys”, who picked up this country’s only NORCECA (North, Central America and the Caribbean) medal when notched bronze in the Trinidad leg of the 2012 circuit, rebounded to deny the pair from the Dominican Republic 21-19, 21-12 in 35 minutes for 11th place. It was the first CAC Games for Whitfield and Williams, but the second for their teammates.
It could have been the third straight for Joseph, who made her debut at this level alongside Andrea Davis in 2006 in Colombia. The former nominee for Sportswoman of the Year was heavily favoured to make the team – with the assistance of Elki Philip – four years later, but she was injured just before the qualifying tournament and Dyette and Nadiege Honore competed in Puerto Rico.

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...lowest medal tally since 1990

T&T ended the 22nd Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games, in Veracruz, Mexico in tenth spot with 11 medals, two gold, one silver and eight bronze from 197 athletes.

The medal tally was the smallest return for this country since 1990 in Mexico, when T&T managed 13 medals, five silver and eight bronze.

Last time in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico T&T captured 34 medals, nine gold, 12 silver and 13 bronze for eighth spot on the medal table while in Colombia (2006) T&T won 21 medals (one gold, nine silver and 11 bronze), 2002 in El Salvador T&T bagged 17 medals (five gold, one silver and 11 bronze); 1998 in Venezuela, T&T won 14 medals (one gold, eight silver and five bronze) and five years prior in Ponce, Puerto Rico, the T&T contingent picked up 26 medals, three gold, seven silver and 16 bronze.

With the 11 medals won in Veracruz, it moved the red, white and black, to 11th on the overall table with a total 209 medals, 41 gold, 75 silver and 93 bronze to be the second ranked English-speaking Caribbean country behind Jamaica’s 340 medal haul, 101 gold, 117 silver and 122 bronze.

Returning home from Veracruz with precious gold for T&T were shot putter Cleopatra Borel in the women’s shot put for a second straight year, and swimmer George Bovell who won a third straight men’s 50m freestyle title.

The senior men’s national men’s hockey team got the lone bronze medal after going down to Cuba 1-5 in their title match while bronze came via Dorian Alexander (taekwando), Curtis Humphreys/Dexter St Louis (table tennis), Roger Daniel (shooting), Christopher George (judo), Kwesi Browne (cycling), Bovell (swimming), Michael Alexander (boxing) and the men’s sevens rugby team.

Yesterday, on the final day of competition T&T’s senior men’s volleyball team suffered a fifth straight loss, 15-25, 21-25, 13-25 in their seventh place battle with Colombia at the Cordoba Arena.

The Colombians also swept past T&T 10-25, 23-25, 13-25 when both teams met in round-robin Pool A play earlier in the week.

In beach volleyball, Nancy Joseph and Ayanna Dyette ended ins eventh spot after battling past Sts Kitts/Nevis duo Brenda Allen and Shanicia Dyer 21-18, 23-21 in 25 mins on Satuday night.

Earlier in the day, Dyette and Joseph were beaten in their fifth to eight semifinal playoff against Guatemalans, Anna Ramirez and Bianca Recinos, 19-21, 11-21.

And, in the men’s tournament, T&T’s Fabien Whitfield and Daneil Williams closed out with a 21-19, 21-12 victory over Dominican Republic’s William Sanchez and Antonio Castillo for 11th.

This followed a shock 17-21, 21-11, 14-16 loss to Jamaicans, Ryck Webb-Mc Kenzie and Christopher Walters in their ninth to 12th semifinal, the same pair they defeated 21-10, 21-11 in their round-robin pool series earlier in the week.

At the Leyes de Reforma Aquatic Centre, the national men’s water polo team was edged out by Puerto Rico 12-13 for fifth spot after leading 7-6 at the half, after which Puerto Rico scored three straight and never trailed.

For the winners, Arturo Aponte scored four times while Alan Bago, Rafael Vidal, Francisco Vargas and Feranndo Zaya got two each and Yahveh Comas, the other.

On the otherhand, Ryan West led T&T with a hat-trick and Russell Ferreira and Jake Gillette two each, and the quintet of Daniel Alvarez, Daniel Abraham, Justin Bodden, Matthew George and Stanley John Littlepage, one apiece.

Despite the loss, it was a vast improvement for the T&T boys who were swept aside 9-15 by Puerto Rico in the round-robin phase.

CAC Games Final Medal Table

Country    Gold    Silver    Bronze    Total
Cuba    121    65    64    250
Mexico    114    105    110    329
Colombia    70    74    78    222
Venezuela    56    78    108    242
Dominican Republic    18    34    23    75
Puerto Rico    15    23    45    83
Guatemala    15    19    43    77
Bahamas    4    3    1    8
El Salvador    2    9    12    23
T&T    2    1    8    11​

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This is it, ladies.
After two near-misses, there’s no second, third or fourth chance after tomorrow evening’s showdown with Ecuador. It’s goalless from the first leg in Quito three weeks ago, so there’s everything to play for, not just for Trinidad and Tobago, but also for the Ecuadorians.
Make no mistake. The South Americans are here believing that this will also be their moment of glory, their chance to ruin the anticipated home celebrations and make it to next year’s Women’s World Cup finals in Canada as first-time participants, much in the same way that the hosts are seeking to become the first nation from the English-speaking Caribbean to reach the pinnacle of the female game.
Whether or not there is a full house at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, there will be nerves in the home camp. But it’s up to Maylee Attin-Johnson and her team to use that anxiety positively by staying focussed from first minute to last, whatever the situation. Momentary relaxation after taking the lead against Mexico in the third-place playoff of the CONCACAF tournament last month in the United States proved costly.
Even now, with a place in the finals so close, so many of us are still slow to buy into the significance of the occasion, dismissing it as “only” women’s football. We are bandwagonnists by nature though, so expect a bit of fervour, a bit of passion from people who hardly knew anything about the trials and tribulations of the team in getting to this stage where they are in with a better-than-even chance of filling the 24th and final spot for the finals.
Coach Randy Waldrum has acknowledged that playing at home will be tricky. A home crowd in excess of 15,000 will be unprecedented in women’s football in this country. Will the national players feel the sudden weight of expectation from countrymen and women who previously didn’t seem to even know that they existed? Will the roar and groans of thousands of voices be a boost or a burden?
Obviously a lot will depend on how the game unfolds. A win for either side clinches qualification, full stop, but a scoring draw (1-1, 2-2, etc) will earn the Ecuadorians a ticket to Canada by virtue of the scoreless stalemate in the first leg. So will they go for the early strike, knowing that it will put pressure on the hosts to score at least twice, or keep Trinidad and Tobago goalless and frustrated deep into the game while looking for the late item that will clinch the tie?
As we saw in the first game where they came on as second half substitutes seeking to take advantage of a tiring T&T team in the draining and disorienting altitude of the Ecuadorean capital, the nippy striking pair of Monica Quinteros and Elizabeth Caicedo are likely to pose the greatest threat to a defence that has been heavily reliant on the excellent Kimika Forbes in goal throughout this qualifying campaign.
There is talent and experience up front for the home side as well in the personalities of Kennya Cordner and Ahkeela Mollon, so an intriguing duel is in the offing. At the end of the day though, the team that prevails will more than likely be the one that is driven by the greatest desire from within.
In that sense, Trinidad and Tobago may appear to have overcome more hurdles (including being left stranded briefly in Dallas ahead of the CONCACAF tournament) in reaching this far. But the Ecuadoreans have also shown character on the pitch, rallying from a 1-2 halftime deficit to defeat Argentina 3-2 in the critical third-place playoff of South American qualifying to get to this decisive two-match duel with the red, white and black.
I suppose for us ordinary citizens who will never be called upon to deliver for an expectant nation, it is difficult to understand how anyone can stay calm and focussed ahead of such a big occasion. So maybe perspective is important at a time like this.
In a tearful tribute to his fallen teammate Phillip Hughes, Australian Test cricket captain Michael Clarke recalled on Friday how the ever-positive left-handed batsman would often say to his teammates: “Where else would you rather be boys, than playing cricket for your country?”
That’s a much better way to approach the challenge instead of being bogged down by supposed pressure and freezing up with anxiety and tension. It’s a privilege, it’s an honour to wear the national colours...and to be on the doorstep of history to boot.
So, where else would you rather be girls, than playing football for your country and taking us to the World Cup finals?

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