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Trinidad and Tobago's Shaunlee Govia, left, battles with Mexico’s Kiana Palacios during the Road to Concacaf W Gold Cup match at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo, Port-of-Spain on Tuesday, December 5TH 2023. Mexico won 1-0. PHOTO BY: Daniel Prenti

National women's football coach Richard Hood is generally happy with the effort of his team, despite a 1-0 loss to giants Mexico at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo, Port-of-Spain on Tuesday night that ended their chances of sealing a place at the Concacaf Women's Gold Cup.

T&T's "Women Warriors" were hammered 6-0 in the first meeting between the teams in September, however, the goal-fest that was expected on Tuesday night never happened.

The Women Warriors, in need of a clear four-goal win, were expected to be ultra offensive in the encounter, but instead were forced to defend stoutly against a raging Mexican attack. The result meant that the Mexicans topped Group A with 12 points, while the Puerto Rican took the second-place qualifying berth with four points.

The Women Warriors remained on just one point in the campaign, having lost to the Mexicans twice 6-0 and 1-0, and lost and drew with Puerto Rico 2-1 and 0-0, respectively. At the post-match press conference on Tuesday, Hood expressed mixed feelings.

"It was a big improvement and it was something we have been asking from the ladies, that they go out and demonstrate the progress they have made during the campaign. I think that every game we have improved and they demonstrated that tremendously last night," Hood said.

"For me, I was a bit disappointed in how we played from the point that we struggled to keep hold of the ball, we didn't really have much possession and we didn't really stretch ourselves offensively. But I was very happy with the defensive effort, the shape and the organisation and to me, that's the big takeaway. The Mexicans had difficulty in breaking us down and I was really happy about that."

Hood and his charges got a surprise visit from Minister of Sports and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe-Lewis, who promised to lend her assistance to the women's programme. This programme lacked overall support up to the point where players were not committed to the preparation of Tuesday's match.

"Before I made my post-match comments to the girls, the Minister of Sports came to greet them and I told her that what we need moving forward is investment in the women's programme and she promised a certain amount of equipment to assist the programme. So we look forward to that," said Hood.

"We have to continue, we have to keep training, we have to keep building the local pool, we have to keep building the local programme. I said to them, it must never be a position where we turn to what we met when we came into this programme in July. For me, we want to take a bit of a break for Christmas and we're going to have meetings with the technical director the director of women's football and the general secretary of the T&T Football Association to plan the way forward.

"I would want to get the players back on to the pitch as early as January and really what we need to do now is to play as many international games as possible every FIFA window. We can start small, against our Caribbean neighbours. We saw St Vincent and Barbados played last night. These are the teams we need to start building the programme against, and learn how to win games, rather than we go up against tougher opposition like Mexico, of which we are nowhere close to that kind of quality to face that kind of opposition.

"It's about rebuilding the programme and continuing to rebuild the programme."

He sees promise for the team's future, saying: "Last evening, we saw two 16-year-olds take to the pitch and I thought they did really well. That's the way we're looking to go, expose as many players as possible, get them playing international football and that's going to take us back on the right track of where we want to be."

Hood was referring to youngsters J'Eleisha Alexander and Orielle Martin, who were inserted late in the match.

SOURCE: T&T Guardian