FORMER TRINIDAD and Tobago defender Brent Sancho is calling for greater support for the national women’s team, as they prepare for their 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualification CONCACAF-CONMEBOL playoff against Ecuador, on November 8 (in Ecuador) and December 2 (in TT).
The winner of the two-leg playoff will progress to the Women’s World Cup in Canada.
Trinidad and Tobago failed to gain automatic qualification on Sunday, when they fell to a 4-2 defeat, in extra-time, by Mexico in the third-place playoff of the CONCACAF Women’s Championships at the PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania, United States.
According to Sancho, in a telephone interview yesterday, “I think, first and foremost, we failed these women, with the preparation that they had, not just the (US) $500 fiasco but even before that. I think we failed them miserably, in terms of making sure that everything was in place for their preparation to be successful.
“I think it’s imperative that we, not just the governing body but also Government and corporate Trinidad and Tobago give priority to these bunch of girls (for them to qualify) to the World Cup by making sure that we give them every single thing needed to assist with their qualification,” he added. “I don’t think we should leave any stone unturned to make sure that we put all that we need to be put in place, and we don’t spare any expense.”
Sancho was a member of the “Soca Warriors” team, under the guidance of Dutch coach Leo Beenhakker, that qualified for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.
But the national women squad, dubbed the Soca Princesses, will have to play the first leg of the playoff at altitude in Quito, Ecuador.
Asked about the altitude factor, Sancho replied, “from my experience playing the sport, it’s always a difficult proposition for any team. I’ve seen World Champions and all struggle to play at altitude. Our CONCACAF neighbours Mexico have consistently used it to their advantage.”
He continued, “scientifically, there are procedures that are available to at least give yourself a fighting chance when it comes to altitude. I think that is the realm that we need to go down.”
TT women coach Randy Waldrum was unable to maintain consistency in the starting line-up, as injuries took its toll, with midfielders Tasha St Louis, Karyn Forbes, Ayanna Russell and Janine Francois all spending time on the treatment table.
Sancho, currently the managing director of local club Central FC, noted, “I feel that we can’t leave any stone unturned. I know for a fact there are many players that have Trinidad parentage that play in the US, and here as well. I think we really need to go out there and scratch the surface, and see if we can get players that are of the calibre that could give us that added impetus to push the team forward.”
He added, “when you look at the adversity that this team had throughout the campaign, not just the off-the-field fiasco but the injuries, we need to go out there and probably the players that are within our reach, we need to get them here and make sure they are part of the programme.
“We need to get a pool of players ready, fit and available, to make sure that qualification is our number one goal,” he ended.