Trinidad and Tobago's senior women's team head coach Ross Russell said his team will be ready to contest the upcoming Pan American Games and he is expecting them to give a strong showing in Toronto, Canada.
The former national goalkeeper was speaking following a recent training session at the Ato Boldon Stadium as his team continued its preparations for the slate of matches in the opening group phase.
The Women Warriors open against Argentina on July 11 at the Hamilton Pan Am Soccer Stadium before facing Colombia on July 14th and Mexico on July 18.
“We are ready as can be,” Russell told TTFA Media. “Right now the team is shaping up quite good. Most of the players are playing in the WPL. I have been to all of the games and they are all in good nick. It's just about sharpening up and finalizing the system we will play.”
Russell said there were benefits to his team members from playing in the WPL. “The benefit is that the players are getting to play 90 minutes of football. It fits in okay into our preparations.”
The teams in T&T's group are more than likely to be formidable opponents for the Caribbean champions. “There are positives for us heading into such a tournament against these high quality teams. The confidence level of our girls is high because they want to play these kind of teams. The only scare for me is that the teams we are playing are already in competition, some of them being at the World Cup and they will be well oiled. We are optimistic but we just have to be mindful of our opponents being a bit sharper at this time.”
Russell said his current squad members will be eager to show their worth at the Pan Am Games. “The girls are very eager to show their worth. They are very anxious to go out there and show the world that they belong to be up there with the better teams. The last game was a bit of a bitter sweet experience (against Ecuador) but they are putting that behind them and looking forward to doing well in the Pan Am Games,” Russell added.
On the men's side, head coach Zoran Vranes will be hoping his team can bounce back from the disappointment of being eliminated from the Olympic qualifying campaign after one match having lost 5-3 to St Vincent/Grenadines on the weekend.
“It's not an easy time for us but we have to take it on openly as this tournament will be a very good chance for us to face some very good teams and this will be a very good experience for our boys,” Vranes said.
“Now we do not have any more games in the Olympic qualification to prepare for so it is important that we make full use of this opportunity in the Pan Am and then get our players back into a programme as they will now then have to look forward to being part of the senior team in the years ahead,” he added.
T&T's Under-23 men's team face Uruguay on July 13, Paraguay on July 17 and Mexico on July 21. The T&T teams are scheduled to depart for Toronto on Monday.
T&T Women's Pan Am squad: Kimika Forbes, Karyn Forbes, Maylee Attin-Johnson, Rhea Belgrave, Janine Francois, Arin King, Patrice Superville, Dernelle Mascall, Mariah Shade, Khadidra Debesette, Ayanna Russell, Ahkeela Mollon, Brianna Ryce, Shalette Alexander, Lauryn Hutchinson, Shenelle Henry, Kennya Cordner and Tasha St Louis
T&T men's team (Pan Am): Montell Joseph, Maurice Ford, Alvin Jones, Jesus Perez, Neveal Hackshaw, Jomal Williams, Tristan Hodge, Shannon Gomez, Nathaniel Garcia, Shackiel Henry, Xavier Rajpaul, Dwight Quintero, Jelani Felix, Neil Benjamin, Dario Holmes, Aikim Andrews, Jovan Sample and Kadeem Corbin.