Despite a dogged 3-0 win over Dominica in the Concacaf Caribbean Women’s Qualifiers on Monday at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, coach Jamaal Shabazz has said his biggest test in the tournament will come from St Kitts/Nevis on Friday when the team meet in a 6:30 pm contest.
The T&T coach was left smiling for the first time in a long while, due mainly to the progress being made in the women’s game. The Soca Princesses are expected to top the group.
On Saturday, T&T go off to flying start by crushing USVI 10-0. However, the Dominicans, being coached by T&T’s Rajesh Latchoo who was an understudy to Shabazz at Morvant Caledonia United, provided more resistance than expected with a defensive strategy.
In a post-match press conference, Shabazz didn’t believe his understudy provided his biggest test in the five-team Group C play-off, saying it will come from St Kitts/Nevis, as they have demonstrated the ability to play, bring the ball down and start the attack. St Kitts/Nevis got the better of the Dominicans 2-1 in its opening match Saturday and will be hoping for maximum points today when they clash with the Grenadians in Couva from 4 pm. In the other game today the United States Virgin Islands will tangle with Dominica from 6:30 pm.
Against Dominica, Shabazz girls produced a decent display in a match that served as a learning experience for them.
“Good tactical game in defence by Dominica, but we are just happy to come away with three goals and three points. Latchoo showed the intelligence that he couldn’t play open, that they had to literally park the bus and they did it well. I think the tactics used by Dominica reminded me of when we played the USA back in 2002 where we defended for our lives and focussed on getting the ball to Mollon,” Shabazz explained.
He believes there was disinterest among his players by the defensive strategy but said they know now how to deal with such a tactic.
T&T’s defensive midfielder Karyn Forbes has been Shabazz’s ace card in tight situations, displaying her ability to strike the ball powerfully to goal.
Forbes who has been as steady as a rock in the defence, was among the scorers in the opening game, a scorcher from the wide left, and again Monday she curled one in from a similar position from a free kick.
The team is expecting to be strengthened further with the inclusion of Ahkeela Mollon and Maylee Attin-Johnson, both of whom are abroad coaching, as well as two new surprise players that will fit into the team perfectly.