Fitness fails Trinidad Princesses

Once again, the work ethic failed a Caribbean team in a most consequential and devastating way! The Trinidad and Tobago women’s under-20 team were a mere five minutes away from becoming the first English-speaking Caribbean women’s team to qualify for a World Cup when it failed to maintain a 3-2 lead in the third place match against Costa Rica at the CONCACAF Under-20 Women’s Tournament at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex in Georgetown, Cayman Islands on Sunday, Jan. 19. The young Soca Princesses gave up a goal with minutes to play and allowed Costa Rica to tie the game at 3-3 and go into the overtime period with the upper-hand.

Costa Rica went on to win the contest, 7-3, and got the last World Cup berth; the USA beat Mexico in the final to win the tournament, as both finalists qualified for the FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup scheduled for cities across Canada this summer.

Trinidad captain Anique Walker, whose two early goals put her country on the verge of making history, was terribly disappointed at the outcome. “Yes, I am very disappointed,” Walker lamented. “I don’t know what to say than we lost our concentration and those two goals I scored don’t mean anything now as we have lost and we are not going to the World Cup.”

Walker was exactly right about the lost of concentration, which is what happens when players are not conditioned to play well beyond the required 90 minutes in the game. Watching highlights of the contest on the CONCACAF web site, I saw a Trinidad and Tobago team that was not fit enough and a team that simply could not go the distance.

It always amazes me that, with the Caribbean’s year-round tropical weather and physical terrain, Caribbean teams are not fit enough to play well beyond 90 minutes. Teams in the Caribbean should be as fit, if not fitter, than their CONCACAF and other counterparts; there is the sand on the ever-present beaches to run on and strength their legs and build stamina; the hills and mountains that are the envy of many teams that would love that sort of rugged terrain to plough and force-stretch the lungs and encourage the heart to work harder to circulate oxygen throughout the body – all in the name of fielding a physically strong and fit body that could constantly pressure opponents into mistakes and turn those mistakes into opportunities.

Instead, the Soca Princesses were weak towards the end of their contest and as Walker stated, lost their way. It reminded me of when I embarrassingly and painfully watch the Grenada men’s national team in a loss to Guatemala in a game at Red Bull Arena during the 2011 Goal Cup; Grenada could hardly move on the pitch by mid-way of the second half.

The Soca Princesses made a gallant effort and are to be commended for advancing well into the tournament, but we have to realize our shortcomings, no mater how unpleasant, and address them.

Walker gave Trinidad a 2-0 lead with her goals in the 16th and 28th minutes before Melissa Herrera closed the gap for Costa Rica at the 33rd minute; Khadisha Debessette restored Trinidad and Tobago’s 2-goal margin when she scored in the 41st minute, just before the half. The Soca Princesses battle and maintain the 3-1 lead until there was 19 minutes left, when Costa Rican substitute Nicole Araya scored to make it 3-2; with the momentum in its favor and not much fight left in the Soca Princesses, Costa Rica tied the game, 3-3, with five a mere five minutes to play. In the 30-minute overtime, Trinidad had nothing left in the tank as the victors went on to score four unanswered goals to qualify for their third World Cup.

USA vs. S. Korea

The USA men’s nationally team recently returned from a Word Cup acclimatizing tour to Sao Paulo, Brazil, where the American will be based and they trained in the cities were they will play their games this summer. According to U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann, the tour was a success; Klinsmann said that the players were very competitive, reported very fit for the camp and that the players should use this Saturday’s game versus South Korea at StubHub Center in Carson, CA to stake their claim for a spot on the World Cup team. Klinsman also said that the game will serve to how tactical implications introduced in Brazil will work. South Korea recently defeated Costa Rica, 1-0; the game will be televised on ESPN

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