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T&T, Ecuador clash in first leg playoff
T&T’s road to the 2015 Fifa Women’s World Cup will reach its penultimate hurdle today when the Women Soca Warriors face off away from home at Ecuador in the first leg on a Concacaf/Comnebol playoff. The match will kick off at 2 pm (4 pm TT time) at the Estadio Olimpico Atahualpa, Quito, which sits at 9,127 feet above sea level and is likely to be filled to capacity. A win would be ideal and a draw, a positive result. But even a loss today may not be detrimental to T&T’s chances, especially if coach Randy Waldrum’s team leaves Ecuador with a goal.
A goal for the Women Warriors may be crucial to the final outcome of the two-leg fixture, as the playoffs would be decided by the away goal rule if both teams are tied on aggregate following the December 2 return leg in T&T, unless both teams finish with the same number of home and away goals. In the latter case, the return leg would go down to a penalty shootout. Both Ecuador and T&T will compete for their first ever spot at a Fifa Women’s World Cup. Twenty-two out of 24 spots have already been booked for the tournament to be hosted in Canada. The Netherlands and Italy are also to play a two-legged playoff for the final spot.
As indicated by Waldrum, T&T has seen an overall improvement in the fitness and recuperation of individual players, following their hectic schedule at the Concacaf Women’s Championship, in the USA, last month, where they finished fourth. He said apart from a few minor knocks, the team seemed to be in a much healthier state than it was heading into the Concacaf Championship. “Jan (Janine Francois) didn’t play much in Concacaf and neither did Baby (Karyn Forbes) and neither did Ayanna (Russell) and those kids seem to be back now. So, our team’s depth is going to be better now, I think than what we had in Concacaf,” he said.
Waldrum, his coaching and medical team have spent six days in training in Mexico City, Mexico, an almost ideal location for the purpose of preparing for Quito’s high altitude conditions. The home team, too, has done its homework. According to a Quito-based newspaper, El Comercio, Ecuador’s technical director/head coach Vanessa Arauz has observed three identifiable threats in the T&T team including captain Maylee Attin Johnson, forward Kennya Cordner and winger Ahkeela Mollon. She noted T&T’s prowess at set plays and has cautioned the home team against conceding needless corners and free-kick opportunities.
Nevertheless she said the Ecuador players were confident and ready for the challenge and will be satisfied if her leaves for the T&T leg with at least a two or three goal advantage. Forward Giannina Lattanzio, who is likely to start, scored three goals for Ecuador during the qualifying round-robin and is among the players to watch, as well as another forward in 22-year-old captain Erika Paola Vasquez. Those two are among a very young Ecuador team, comprising mostly players in there late teens and early twenties. The latest Fifa women’s national team rankings issued less than a week ago saw this country soar to 46th spot, a considerable improvement from its previous standing at 79th.
It reflected an positive year in women’s football. The move saw T&T improve by 33 spots, overtaking Ecuador (now 49th, up from its previous ranking of 76). Waldrum said there was a sense of excitement and anxiety in the T&T camp adding that his players are also ready for the fixture. “The players are really excited. You can start to see them liven up a little bit today (yesterday). As we got into Quito, they could sense that the game is near. And, the focus seems to be really good. They’re just anxious to get to the game.” He said some of the players experienced an unusual hype by gatherers upon their entry to Ecuador. “I sense there’s a lot of excitement here in Ecuador.”
Goalkeepers: Kimika Forbes, Tinesha Palmer.
Defenders: Ayanna Russell, Rhea Belgrave, Arin King, Liana Hinds, Brianna Ryce, Khadisha Debessette, Lauren Hutchinson, Patrice Superville.
Midfielders: Khadidra Debbessette, Maylee Attin Johnson, Janine Francois, Karyn Forbes, Candice Edwards, Tasha St Louis, Ahkeela Mollon, Dernelle Mascall.
Forwards: Mariah Shade, Iyesha Olliverre, Kennya Cordner, Anique Walker, Jasmine Sampson.
Coach: Randy Waldrum.
Goalkeepers: Shirley Viviana Berruz Aguilar, Andrea Carolina Vera Coral, Irene Lisset Tobar Mera.
Defenders: Ligia Elena Moreira Burgos, Tamara Arelis, Angulo Cuero, Katherine Solange Ortiz Simisterra, Nancy Lorena Aguilar Murillo, Merly Cristina Zambrano Mendoza, Lliana Katherine Bowen Bravo.
Midfielders: Mayra Fabiola Olvera Reyes, Angie Paola Ponce Baque, Ingrid Roxana Rodriguez Alvarado, Adriana Margarita Barre Cusme, Kerlly Lizeth Real Carranza, Medelein Estefania Riera Bajana.
Forwards: Andrea Denisse Pesantes Tenorio, Erika Paola Vasquez Valencia, Giannina Maria Lattanzio Florez, Ambar Gillians Toerres Laz, Carina Elizabeth Caicedo Caicedo, Monica Quinteros Cabeza, Kelly Jahaira Vera Delgado.
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