Six. That's how many goals Jamaica were able to put past Trinidad and Tobago's Under-20 team in their final match of the Concacaf Final Round of World Cup Qualifying.
Six...from a team we drew 2-2 with just a couple weeks ago.
Six. From a team that just a few days before conceded seven from Canada. Canada beat T&T two nil as well, but the performance in that game seemed to show that the girls were up for the battle against one and all. This team has showed the country they had character as early as the Caribbean round qualifiers as they were able to fight back after going behind on a couple occasions and displayed true warrior spirit in most of their outings.
So what went wrong? Maybe it was just a bridge too far. Too many games in too close proximity resulting in the energy levels not being able to be maintained. Maybe Jamaica were just hungrier. The loss to Canada had them needing a huge victory in order to keep hopes of progress alive. This incentive was enough to get the Reggae Girlz out of the blocks blazing like Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce as they completed their task with aplomb. It was in vain though as Honduras managed to qualify based on superior goal difference after succumbing to favourites Canada by 'only' two goals.
T&T had no response to the Jamaican onslaught though. Well, at least no response that made a significant difference as we did manage to score one goal. The only goal the twin-islanders were able to score during a sad tournament that saw ten conceded in three games. Our early performances seemed to promise much more than we left the shores expecting, especially after the now usual uncertainties with preparation and travel. In the end we left with much much less than expected as the pendulum swung the other way. The hurt is compounded that the embrassing loss came at the feet of our caribbean neighbours who should not be better than us to the tune of five goals.
T&T's Women's football was believed to be on the rise.Just recently, Senior Women's Team Figure-Head Maylee Attin-Johnson commented that the days for losing by huge scores to the likes of the US and other powerhouses are over. However, the under-17's failed to qualify for the final round of Concacaf qualifying behind Haiti and Jamaica. This same under-20 team could only manage third place at the Caribbean stage behind those two as well, in order to qualify for this rounds. It implies that the next generation needs to step up to be able to keep our level to where it is currently.
However, what level is our football at currently? Our senior team (or is that teams?) has been wracked by in-fighting, minimal preparation, financial issues, injuries, coaching disruptions...and that is just what's in the public domain. Now, we are suddenly heading into 5 high profile friendlies. First up is a game tonight (8:45 TT Time) against football super-powers Brazil , who have in their squad Marta one of the leading players in the women's game. Trinidad on the other hand is playing with a "bare eleven" (or actually 13 including a sub goalkeeper)as our main team is in the USA for a friendly against the World Champions there.
The under-20 drubbing serves as a timely reminder that we cannot get a head of ourselves in terms of our world views and expectations, especially as the off the field behaviour remains the same. If we do not get trounced by the Brazilians, we should be thankful. If we do, we should not say we were suprised. While the experience in Brazil could not be turned down and illusions as to the size of the task in front of our teams need to be dispelled while good results should not mask that organisation for all our teams need to be improved.
Thankfully there is a new administration in place. While these tournaments came to quickly within new TTFA President, David John-Williams tenure, it should provide enough for him to measure the extent of the work that needs to be done if our women's football is to return to the road that took us to within just a few minutes from qualifying for the Women's World Cup 2015. The next generation is looking just a bit off-course and we need to get things back on track.