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Under-20 girls to unite broken T&T
A 22-woman team that will represent the country at next week’s CONCACAF U-20 W0men’s Championship was released to the media yesterday at a launch at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Balmain, Couva.
And its members are expected to take the field with the burden of uniting a nation that has been broken in pieces by crime. Coach Jamaal Shabazz said Allah has given his girls an opportunity to bring the nation together again, saying through football they can bring the warring fractions in the depressed areas in T&T at peace.
The entire squad of girls has been together for approximately two weeks, as some players arrived a live-in camp soon after Christmas Day, but Shabazz said the girls worked tremendously hard and were supported by national Men’s coach Dennis Lawrence who provided them with his team’s GPS monitoring system, used to track the fitness level.
Shabazz who took over the helm from Italian Carolina Morace is calling on the whole of T&T to come out and support the girls in their attempt to qualify for the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in France later this year, saying it is not him or the TT Football Association but the nation will be at the tournament, and called for a rally of everyone behind the team. “If you cannot make it to the game, then send your children” Shabazz said.
He dismissed concerns the team has been inadequately prepared due to the failure to get the international friendly matches he had been hoping for.
The ex-Morvant Caledonia United coach said he will not harp on things he has no control over.
He made it clear however his girls will approach the tournament with courage and confidence.
The team opens its campaign against Haiti on January 18 in the feature match of a double header at the Ato Boldon Stadium from 7.30 pm.
The game will follow the tournament’s first match between Canada and Costa Rica at 5pm. The Soca Princesses need only to finish among the top three in the tournament to be assured of a place in the team.
He believes his team has been strengthened by the fact that most of his players have had experience of competing at a CONCACAF tournament before.
Goalkeepers: Malaika Dedier,
Defenders: Alexis Kirton, Natisha John, Jaasiel Forde, Crystal Mollineaux, Brittaney Williams, Cecily Stoute, Shaunalee Govia, Alaya Ellis, Nathifa Hackshaw.
Midfielders: Ranae Ward, Megan Rampersad, Shenieka Paul, Alexis Fortune, Kedie Johnson, Kelsey Henry, Chelcy Ralph, Asha James
Forwards: Laurelle Theodore, Dennecia Prince, Aaliyah Prince.