National women’s hockey team coach Anthony “Bumper” Marcano says he likes his team tough group assignment for next year’s Pan American Hockey Cup in Santiago, Chile.
On Tuesday, the “Calypso Stickwomen” were handed a tough Pool A round-robin draw against the South American trio of the powerhouse and three-time winners Argentina, Chile and Uruguay in the eight-team tournament which runs from January 12-23 while Canada, Mexico, USA and Peru will face off in Pool B of the tournament which serves as the FIH World Cup qualifiers for the region.
The “Calypso Stickwomen” open their tournament versus Chile on January 12 from 7.30 pm followed by matches against Uruguay on January 14 from 5.15 pm, and Argentina, two days later also from 5.15 pm to close out round-robin play.
The top team at the end of round-robin play will advance to the main draw semifinals on January 20 while the second and third-placed teams in each pool meet in cross-over quarterfinals.
Both finalists and the third-place finishers in the Pan American region will earn places at the16-team FIH World Cup which will be hosted jointly by Spain and Netherlands in 2022.
Commenting on the draw, Marcano said he thinks it is a good one in that being with the number one team in the region (Argentina), everyone has to play well.
He added, “It is always better to be with Argentina as the cross-overs gives you a better opportunity of success.
“All the teams here are ranked above us (T&T) and therefore we will be looking at achieving a top-six finish.
“If we achieve this, it will allow us to automatically qualify for the next Pan American Cup,” explained Marcano.
T&T only cemented its spot in Chile with a second-place finish last month at the Pan American Challenge behind host Peru, led by head coach Marcano.
During the one-week tournament, T&T defeated Peru 1-0 in their opening round-robin encounter on September 26, followed by a 2-2 draw with Paraguay on (September 28) and 1-1 with Brazil a day later to end in the second spot at the end of group play with five points, one behind the Peruvians.
In the semifinal, T&T battled past Paraguay 4-3 on sudden-death penalty shoot-out after a 1-1 draw in regulation time while Peru blanked Brazil 2-0, before avenging their round-robin loss to the 'Calypso Stickwomen' for the gold medal, 2-0.
One member of the team from in Peru, who will be unavailable is former team captain Teresa Lezama who called time on her national career some two weeks ago and coach Marcano admitted her absence has left a gap in the team where experience is concerned.
“However, the women's programme we have been developing players to fill in the gaps that will be created by those athletes coming to the end of their careers.
“Teresa was a stalwart for T&T's women hockey, a very dedicated athlete and ambassador of the sport.
“The respect she gained through her career from within the team and others portray her willingness to make everyone she comes in contact with better,” stated Marcano.
The Argentines are five-time Pan American Cup winners and the lone team to have ever won gold in the competition, while the USA has ended second in each edition except 2017 when they took bronze with Chile claiming the silver.
The T&T women, who have resumed training, have appeared at the Pan American Cup three times previously. The first was in 2004 in Barbados when they ended eighth, and then in 2009 when they placed fourth in Bermuda, and four years later when they ended seventh in Argentina.