24 Oct 2010
- Written by Nigel Simon (T&T Guardian)
- Hits: 873
Former captain of the Soca Princesses, utility player Nadia James has been forced out of the senior national women’s team for the upcoming Concacaf Women’s World Cup qualifying tournament in Mexico due to school commitments.
Contacted yesterday, national women’s team coach Jamaal Shabazz who will name his final squad on Monday ahead of Tuesday’s departure for Mexico, said James, a student at West Texas University and a main stay in the midfield will not be joining the team.
Uncertainty also hangs over the availability of speedy forward, Ahkeela Mollon, who is based in Sweden. “We will know by tomorrow if Mollon will be joining the team,” added the T&T coach.
Looking ahead to the tournament in Cancun, Mexico where T&T will face the host country, Canada and Guyana, Shabazz says the possibilities are there for a strong showing and a likely passage through to the semifinal round.
“We have the ability to advance to the last four and then from there anything can happen with regards to qualification for the World Cup in Germany next year,” Shabazz said.
The Soca Princesses squad just back from a two-match warm up of Guatemala where it enjoyed a 3-2 win and 2-2 draw with the host will open its qualifying campaign against Canada on Friday.
T&T Football Federation Director of Women’s football and former Canadian coach Even Pellerud will also meet with Shabazz prior to the team’s departure to discuss the team’s preparations for that encounter.
T&T will also meet Mexico on October 31 and Guyana on November 2. The top two teams will advance to the semifinals with the finalists qualifying for Germany 2011 next June and the third place winner moving on to a playoff with Europe’s fifth place finisher.
“Pellerud knows Canada’s football and he has seen their team play this year and so we will sit down and hold extensive discussions in relation to that match and other relevant matters,” Shabazz said. Reflecting on the matches against Guatemala, Shabazz said despite the difficult circumstances with as much as eight players being unavailable due to illness, the team demonstrated a strong sense of character.
Shabazz added: “I think the pressure that we underwent in Guatemala was a blessing because it turned out to be much tougher than we expected with the eight players having to miss the matches.
This forced the players to dig deep and we as coaches had to think outside the box. These are all necessary elements required for us to succeed at the Concacaf qualification level.”
“Now that we are back home, we will focus on fine tuning and hopefully leave in time next week to have a couple sessions with the overseas-based players before the Canada match. We are focusing on a couple particular areas with regards to killing teams off as we should have in the second game against Guatemala.
We were two goals ahead and we sat back and allowed them to come back into the game and we almost lost the match near the end. We will not have that luxury in Concacaf where we can squander a two-goal lead and still survive or go on to win a match,” Shabazz added.