BY Shaun Fuentes
A 20-member Trinidad and Tobago’s Under 17 Women’s Team arrived Panama City on Tuesday for a two-match training camp as it continues preparations for the CONCACAF Final Round of qualifiers for the 2013 FIFA Under 17 Women’s World Cup in Azerbaijan.
The team, under head coach Even Pellerud will face the Panama Women’s Under 17 team on April 18th and 21st before moving on to another training camp in Fort Lauderdale, United States prior to arriving in Guatemala City for the tournament.
The squad includes four overseas-based players in Canadian-based trio Emma Abdul, Donika Murray and Diarra Simmons as well as Nikkia Billioun of Long Island, USA.
Pellerud will also hope to benefit from the presence of a few experienced players who were part of the 2010 FIFA Under 17 Women’s World Cup in T&T, among them Abdul, Simmons, Jonelle Warrick, captain Anique Walker, Victoria Swift, Khadidra and Khadisha Debesette.
The ex-Canada coach said he was optimistic of the team’s readiness at this stage of the preparations but said the upcoming camps will prove vital to the team’s state going into its opening game against Mexico on May 3.
Pellerud also commended the T&T Football Federation for its efforts in securing the two overseas training camps through assistance from the Ministry of Sports as well as for ensuring that two tutors have been assigned to the team to prepare some of the players for their upcoming Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) Exams. The tutors have also travelled with the Team to Panama City and will be with the contingent for the duration of its stay away including the tournament in Guatemala City. According to Anthony Harford, marketing manager of the TTFF, the necessary arrangements have also been made for the players to undergo their exams at a University there and the Ministry of Education will assist in the necessary arrangements to have examiners from Trinidad fly to Guatemala City to oversee the process.
“It’s a great opportunity for the players to get the exposure of an overseas training camp and two good games against Panama which is also preparing for the qualification in the other group,” Pellerud said.
“We had the chance to play two games against Canada and I’m quite satisfied with some of the progress at this point. OF course we need international games and these two against Panama will help us.
“We have a very good idea of what our team will look like for the Finals but there is still room for some adjustment in terms of what the final squad will look like. Of course these next two training camps will go a long way in helping us get the team prepared in the best way possible,” added Pellerud who was also head coach of the T&T team that completed a 2-1 win over Chile in the opening game of the 2017 Under 17 Finals.
T&T faces Mexico on May 3 in their opening match before taking on United States on May 5 and Bahamas two days later.
The group winners will face the runners-up from the other group in the semifinals on May 10, with the third-place and championship matches set for May 12. The semifinal winners and the winner of the third-place game will qualify for the U-17 Women’s World Cup in Azerbaijan September 22-October 13.