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U-20 girls defy the odds
For too long T&T has failed to do much more than concede goals, perhaps score a few and attain the odd point here or there at the Concacaf women’s level.
Aside from the FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup which was hosted here in 2010, T&T has never managed to hold their own against world opposition.
But years of persistence seems to be paying off and the current crop of T&T U-20 players—several of them coming out of the development programme dating back to 2009—are determined to become a force in the region and to raise the level of the local women’s game.
“It’s an amazing feat to get into the semifinal round of a Concacaf tournament. We’ve done it with the boys but the girls have always had a mountainous task and to achieve that in 2014 is commendable,” said T&T Football Association (TTFA) technical director Anton Corneal, who is with the team in the Cayman Islands for the current final round.
T&T will face the United States in semifinal number two tomorrow but can still book a place in the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Canada. Even with a loss as they will have the chance to contest the third place playoff on Sunday at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex.
The team’s qualifying campaign is supported by the Ministry of Sports and Sportt, and Minister of Sports Anil Roberts is eager to see them continue their fine run which includes victories so far over Honduras and hosts Cayman Islands.
“We’ve worked really hard as a team and we want this badly,” said captain Anique Walker, who has been among the outstanding players in the competition so far. “I was part of the U-17 team in 2010 and I know what it’s like to be at that level and I want to experience it again. There will be no greater feeler than helping the team qualify for the U-20 World Cup. We are working towards taking women’s football in T&T to a respectable level, especially in Concacaf.”
Jason gets Scotland interest
Jason Scotland is attracting interest from Scottish club Hibernian as manager Terry Butcher is believed to be showing interest in the Barnsley frontman.
The 34-year-old former T&T international has been told he can leave Oakwell by manager Danny Wilson after scoring just two goals in 20 outings for the Championship strugglers this season.
Reports suggest that Butcher is looking for a quality goalscorer to add to his Hibs line-up and the fact that Scotland is keen on a return to his namesake country is a plus for the Edinburgh outfit.
Scotland made his name at St Johnstone after a spell with Dundee United before moving to Swansea City in 2007 and then onto Wigan Athletic and Ipswich Town prior to his 2013 shift to Barnsley. Scotland enjoyed a fantastic spell with Swansea City, scoring 45 goals in 90 matches as well as 33 goals in 66 appearances for Scottish club St Johnstone in 2005/2007. His spell at Barnsley has seen him net eight goals in 19 appearances.
Thomson signs with Portchester
English club AFC Portchester have beaten a host of other clubs to sign T&T international Jake Thomson. The former national U-20 player, who lined-up alongside Akeem Adams at the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt, makes his latest move following spells at Southampton, Exeter, Torquay, Cheltenham, Newport County and AFC Bournemouth.
The 24-year-old will be reunited with Louis Bell at the club.
Bell was the coach of the Portsmouth Schools side—which included Thomson—which lifted the English Schools’ Trophy ten years ago.
He’s confident the winger will quickly find his feet at Wessex League level and create the type of chances that strikers Jamie Musselwhite and Nathan Lynch thrive on.
“It’s up to Jake to show he still has what it takes to make football a career,” said Bell.
“I always thought he would go on to play professional football after playing for Portsmouth Schools. He did just that, although only briefly for several clubs up to now. He comes to us from Salisbury with everything to prove. I know first hand what he is capable of and that’s what we want from him. He knows we won’t settle for anything less.
“And if he turns it on, I honestly don’t think he will be here too long. The word will go out around the non-league circle and more senior clubs than us will be in to take him away. If that happens, so be it, we’ll wish him well and not stand in his way,” he said.
Manager Graham Rix, formerly of Arsenal and local side Central FC, said, “Jake comes in with a decent enough pedigree and has set his own high standards that we will expect him to better once he settles in here.”
Glen topscorer for Indian club
Cornell Glen will be a key factor in the Shillong Lajong team as they contest the Indian Federation Cup this month. The 35th edition of the tournament kicked off in Kochi and Manjeri on Tuesday.
Mohun Bagan are the most successful club in the Federation Cup, having won it 13 times; and will be joined in Group C by Shillong Lajong, Mumbai FC and Salgaocar. It is expected to be a tight group with each of the four teams capable of beating the other.
Lajong are fourth on the league table with Glen being their top performer so far this season with eight goals in eleven matches.
“Things are good at the moment. I’ve been in form, getting the goals for my club and we’re improving as the season goes along,” Glen said.
“It’s been a new experience for me but I’m enjoying it. It’s different here to the US or Europe but there is a market for the game and they are trying to build it. I’m happy to be involved and I’ll continue to play my part in helping the club.”
Shaun Fuentes is the director of communications for the TTFA. [email protected]