Tasha St Louis and her T&T Women Warriors will kick off their Caribbean Final Round Qualifiers to the CONCACAF Final Round of World Cup qualification versus Cuba at Independence Park, National Stadium, Kingston, Jamaica from 3 pm today.
It will be the opening fixture in the day’s doubleheader with host Jamaica meeting Antigua & Barbuda from 6 pm.
Bermuda is the other team in the five-nation round-robin series which will conclude on Sunday, September 2, with the top three teams advancing to the CONCACAF Final Round qualifiers along two qualifiers from Central America.
The trio of USA, Mexico and Canada are automatic qualifiers to the final round of eight teams.
Despite being considered favourites for the tournament, St Louis and her team-mates will go into the competition in slight disarray due to the late finalization of the team, under care-taker coach Anton Corneal.
In fact, Corneal, a former national senior team assistant coach and Under-17 and Under-20 World Cup coach only finalised his squad for the tournament late on Thursday after being able to confirm that USA-based players Lauryn Hutchinson and Naomie Guerra will be joining the squad in Kingston along with prolific European-based forward Kennya Cordner.
The T&T team was expected to have its lone training session in Kingston yesterday afternoon with 17 players ahead of today’s opener with the trio of Cordner, Hutchinson and Guerra all set to miss the match.
However, they will join the camp in time for the second fixture on Wednesday versus Antigua & Barbuda from 4 pm.
Speaking ahead of the team’s training session Corneal remained optimistic and team manager Jinelle James said the mood in camp at Knutsford Courts Hotel in Kingston was decent and would improve when the final set of players arrived.
Five players were due to arrive in Kingston yesterday to complete the 17-player roster heading into today’s opening match.
“It’s a bit of a challenge but we’ll do our utmost best to work with what is there for us and go into the game in the best possible frame of mind,” Corneal told TTFA Media.
“There were challenges with flights, availability of players and of course the injuries. It is difficult to have a tactical session going into the first game so we are depending on videos of our opponents and preparing a suitable plan to exploit their weaknesses,” Corneal said. Mariah Shade was ruled out this week due to injury.
The team includes the majority of players from the recent Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in Colombia in which T&T placed fourth after losing to Venezuela, 1-0 in the bronze medal match.
In their other matches in Colombia, the Women Warriors went under to Costa Rica 2-0, Mexico 5-1 and drew with Nicaragua 2-2 after a win by default over Haiti.
When T&T hosted its CFU First Round series in May, the Women Warriors ended the top of the table with ten points, the same as St Kitts/Nevis, but ahead on goal-difference, plus-26 to plus-18.
Goalkeepers: Kimika Forbes, Saundra Baron
Defenders: Jenelle Cunningham, Jonelle Cato, Arin King, Patrice Superville, Natisha John, Naomie Guerra, Lauryn Hutchinson, Rhea Belgrave
Midfielders: Karyn Forbes, Janine Francois, Liana Hinds, Kayla Taylor, Ayana Russell, Melissa Baynes
Forwards: Tasha St. Louis, Kennya Cordner, Natasha St Louis, Aaliyah Prince
T&T vs Cuba, 3 pm
Jamaica vs Antigua & Barbuda, 6pm