The CONCACAF Under-20 Women’s Championship is set to be hosted by the Cayman Islands from 9-19 January 2014. Canada are the hosts of the World Cup and automatically qualify, but this tournament is designed to allow three other teams a passage to the Finals. Cayman Islands will be hosting and this is their first ever appearance in the qualifying process. The two other Caribbean nations involved are Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago, who both qualified through the previous round only for Caribbean teams.
For Cayman Islands in particular, this is a truly special chance to put women’s football on the map in the country. They’ve never reached this stage before, nor have they ever reached a World Cup. They’ve been dealt a tricky draw in Group B alongside Mexico, Honduras and Trinidad, but head coach Joe Supe strongly believes his side can go all the way.
“If we have a good showing against Mexico and then dominate Honduras and Trinidad then we will be in a prime position to go into the semi-finals and then potentially get into the World Cup. Technically we have players who can make a difference. In leadership players like Brianna Hydes and Jetena Bodden can push the ladies forward into believing that something is doable and achieving our goals.”
With that sort of character and faith, there’s no reason why Cayman Islands cannot achieve something perceived by many outside the island as unachievable. Supe mentioned Hydes (see above, right) and Bodden in his comments, two individuals who are supremely talented and have the power to turn matches on their head. Hydes, the captain, plays her club football in the USA and is the poster girl of Cayman’s women’s football. The 19-year-old explained:
“To be able to lead these young ladies is an extreme privilege. I was once the little girl of the team but being one of the senior players comes with a lot of responsibility. I have to be the role model and set the standards.”
There is no doubt Hydes will be heavily relied upon to score the goals and link up the play. But it is important she isn’t overused and kept fresh, because an injury to her would result in a big blow for the team’s chances.
Out of all the Caribbean nations who are making great strides in improving the game for young females, Jamaica is probably in the lead in terms of development and final product. Their Under-17 team finished in a very creditable fourth place in the CONCACAF Women’s U-17 Championship in October earlier this year. The Under-20s now have a real chance to make the headlines if they can navigate a way through Group A consisting of United States, Costa Rica and Guatemala. The Reggae Girlz are a physical, athletic bunch and boast an effective offensive department. They scored goals for fun in the previous qualifying round, but the opposition will be tougher this time around and they’ll have to have their wits about them to earn that precious spot in next year’s World Cup.
Trinidad & Tobago
Trinidad & Tobago will carry similar expectations to Jamaica in targeting a strong group finish and qualification to the World Cup. The island is one of the best in terms of promoting and enhancing young women’s football in the Caribbean and coach Lyndell Hoyte Sanchez has a very capable squad to work with. Twins Khadisha and Khadidra Debesette are two pivotal players in the side. Khadisha leads the line while Khadidra (see above, in red) keeps guard in defence and the pair both represent La Brea in the National Women’s League. Between them, they have netted 53 times for the club. Sanchez speaks highly of them:
“The twins display a positive attitude on and off the field and are an inspiration to their teammates and other youth players in our Women’s Programme.”
The Soca Princesses should have enough in them to see off the hosts but in Honduras and Mexico, they’ll have to be right on top of their game. It’s in their hands.
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