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Shabazz: They are ready
The first step toward qualification to the FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup in France later this year, begins tonight with a tricky clash against Haiti at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, from 6:30pm. And with a nation’s burdens resting heavily on the shoulders of his girls, national coach Jamaal Shabazz gave some comforting words yesterday when he said, “They are ready.”
At a press conference at the Couva venue yesterday Shabazz, a veteran to CONCACAF football, described today’s game as the most important for his team, saying “It is important that we try to get our nose in front in our first game, to start on a good note and put ourselves in a good position.”
The Haitians are no strangers to the Soca Princesses, as both teams played in the same tournament two years ago and are considered to be on the same level technically and tactically. Still the hosts will have to keep a close eye out for the few skilful players within the Haitian ranks that could cause a difference this evening.
In spite of the talent that exists among the teams however, Shabazz is predicting a slug-out match, with both teams going after each other. ‘It will be savage.’
On the other hand the TT girls have been anxious to take the field and have had to receive calming words from their coach. Today they will be led by defender Natisha John, who told the media while they cannot predict the outcome of the match, her team is well prepared, confident and desirous of making everyone proud.
Shabazz too did not make a prediction but made it clear “What has been written for us will come to pass. What we have in our hands is the ability to work hard and get the result we desire, and give everything we can to bring about success for the team.”
The team comprises a multi-talented bunch, most of whom have gained the experience of participating at the CONCACAF level in the past. “They know what to expect, having played at that level before. They are not naive. They have played at under-15 and under -17 levels, and they understand that the margin for error is very slim, and the intensity of the game is very high” Shabazz said.
He added “That understanding alone is a strength, as it arms them with the readiness that they have to play from the first whistle.”
The T&T game will be preceded by another key clash between Canada and Costa Rica from 4pm at he same venue.
GOALKEEPERS: Malaika Dedier, Khalil Keshwar
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.
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