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Don’t give up on us
T&T’s Women Soca Warriors’ hopes of achieving an historic berth in next year’s Fifa World Cup in Canada were dashed at the Hasely Crawford Stadium last night, after they conceded a goal in time added on in their intercontinental playoff against Ecuador. Monica Quinteros stunned the packed stadium of mostly local supporters when she deflected a seemingly harmless free kick from the left flank over advancing keeper Kimika Forbes which bounced into an open net.
Forbes was left stranded as she left her line to gather the cross but ran into heavy traffic inside the penalty area and could only look on as the ball sailed over her and into the net. The effort came against the run of play and gave T&T, who had dominated the match from nearly the start until then, the task of having to score two goals to win, as Ecuador’s away goal counted as two.
T&T threw everything into attack but when Mariah Shade pushed her shot wide of advancing Ecuador goalkeeper Shirley Berruz it was the visitors who would celebrate their first ever World Cup berth. The result was all too familiar for many of the local fans, bringing back memories of the Strike Squad’s campaign in 1989 when T&T men, needing only a draw then, suffered a 1-0 defeat to USA in the final qualifying match at the very same venue.
Speaking afterwards, T&T coach Randy Waldrum could not hide his disappointment, but still congratulated his players for their sterling effort throughout the qualifying experience. “We had more clear chances… It was almost a replay of 1989,” he said.
“I am really disappointed for the players. I want to congratulate Ecuador. Their plan was to sit in and counter. “I am really proud of this group. This group touched so many people around the world.”
Waldrum did not speak about his future with the team, but said, “It has been an incredible journey… It’s made for the big screen. It has been an amazing experience. “I am devastated but I hope the T&T public (continues to) show their support. We must tip our hats to Ecuador for qualifying.” He said he hoped the authorities would use this effort to continue to develop the women’s game.
“We have to continue the momentum … We have to move forward.” Ecuador had played the counter-attacking game for most of the 90 minutes, allowing T&T to press from the onset. There was a sense that a goal was coming for T&T almost immediately after kickoff as winger Ahkeela Mollon poured in crosses from the right flank.
Tasha St Louis, on the opposite flank, was also lively up until her early withdrawal in the 36th minute from an apparent leg injury. She was replaced by Shade, who also linked well with the star striker Kennya Cordner and Mollon.
Cordner was T&T’s most enterprising player throughout and was perhaps unlucky not to convert one of her chances. In the 60th minute, she connected with an overhead kick, which beat Ecuador’s goalkeeper but went out off of the crossbar. Then, in the 77th minute, she made a darting run past a couple of Ecuador defenders from the right flank and had two team-mates in support, but opted to shoot into the gloves of Ecuador’s shot stopper.
Ecuador’s 25-year-old coach Vanessa Arauz will look forward to the draw for the 24 qualifying nations in Ottawa, Ontario, on the weekend.
PM salutes team
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar last night congratulated the Women Soca Warriors for their effort in the intercontinental playoff saying although the were just edged out by Ecuador they had captured the heart of the nation. “You won the admiration of an entire nation. You won our pride by the way you played your hearts out,” Persad-Bissessar said in a statement after the match, which she attended.
“You won a world of respect and the heartfelt gratitude of all of Trinidad and Tobago. You have demonstrated how far we can go no matter how great the odds.” She noted that the team had been an inspiration to every young girl who may want to “emulate your character, your spirit, your ability to bring a nation together.” “Your efforts have gone well beyond the excitement and pride from what occurred on the field of play. You have united us all,” she said.
“The red, white and black unfurls proudly in your honour and our nation salutes you.”
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