National women's coach Richard Hood is facing the time of his life. In 15 days, he will attempt to lead a feeble T&T women's team past Mexico in the 2024 CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup qualifying tournament, which will take place during the FIFA Women’s International Match Windows of September, October, and November of this year.
On Friday at a training session at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo, Port-of-Spain, Hood revealed that defender Liana Hinds has joined the list of players making themselves unavailable for the tournament. Hinds, an American-born T&T defender who sometimes plays as an attacking wing position, represents Hibernian in the Scottish Premier League, the top division of women's football in the country.
She joins striker Kennya "Ya Ya" Cordner and forward Cayla Mac Farlane, who has basically called an end to her international football career.
Hood's problems have been further compounded by the number of inexperienced players that will make up his team for the Mexico encounter on September 26, which will take place at over 8,000 feet in high altitude conditions. Hood said his team will get in and out as quickly as possible.
"I think our preparation has gone well, we started off with a very small group and for whatever reason, we have a number of players unwilling to join the campaign at this point. However, we had a really good camp a couple of weeks ago, where we discovered a couple of new players who will be joining us for the Mexico game. And we continue to get a lot of good work in."
Hood said: "It is not the easiest task we have ahead of us, we know the quality of the Mexicans, we also know that we will be playing at 8000 feet at high altitude which adds to the difficulty of course. But the unit is a rather young inexperienced one, however, based on the work we have done so far, the girls are going to give their best effort. We are going to be disciplined and we're going to be hard working and hopefully, we will get the result we want."
The T&T women's team will have the services of veteran midfielder and captain Karyn Forbes and her sister goalkeeper Kamika, as well as Victoria Swift, Naomi Guerra, and Chelsea Ralph in its lineup. They will join 11 other overseas players, inclusive of Maria Frances Serrant, Asha James, and Kedie Johnson, among others.
Hood will have to wait until September 23 before he can have his full complement of players for the match, as some players at universities abroad will be involved in action on September 21, while the professional players will have to wait for the FIFA window before they can join the team.
T&T is in Group A of League A alongside Mexico and Puerto Rico. After opening on the road, T&T will then host the Mexicans on October 27 before facing Puerto Rico (away) on December 1 and at home on December 5.
After 90 group stage matches, which include home and away play within each League and group, the top finishers in each of the League A groups (three teams) will qualify for the 2024 W Gold Cup Group Stage. Furthermore, the second-place finishers in each of the League A groups (three teams) and the first-place finishers in each of the League B groups (three teams) will advance to the 2024 W Gold Cup Prelims.