Saturday, November 08, 2014

Trinidad And Tobago Starts Their FIFA Playoff Leg Today

In the history of the FIFA Women's World Cup, a Caribbean based team has never played in the tournament. 

With CONCACAF tournament qualification play dominated by women's soccer powers the USA, Canada and Mexico and only 16 women's national teams around the world being involved in the tournament, that made it tough for a Caribbean based  women's team to break through a tough CONCACAF region and play on the big FIFA international women's stage.

Female players in Caribbean nations also had to contend with the sexist notion that soccer was a 'man's game'.  That resulted in little to no funding or corporate sponsorship for their teams.

;But with the FIFA women's tournament (finally) being expanded to 24 teams, and Canada hosting the 2015 edition, it created an opening for a Caribbean team to finally break through and qualify for the tournament.

The Reggae Girlz of Jamaica tried but were eliminated in the group stage after heartbreaking losses to Costa Rica and Mexico.

That left the Women Soca Warriors of Trinidad and Tobago with a goldenGroup opportunity to grab that history for themselves

After holding the FIFA world number one ranked Americans to one goal in their initial group play loss, the rebounded to beat Haiti 1-0 and Guatemala 3-1 to finish second in their group.

They faced Group B winner Costa Rica in the semifinals with a berth on the line, but lost after a 1-1 draw on penalty kicks.   Trinidad and Tobago still had a shot to qualify with a win in the CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament third place game, but they fell to Mexico 4-2 in extra time. 

That sent them to a two leg aggregate score playoff starting later today that has the Soca Warriors facing the daunting task of playing CONMEBOL rep Ecuador in the 9300 foot altitude of Quito's Estadio Olímpico Atahualpa.   They will return to the friendly confines of Hasely Crawford Stadium on December 2 for the second leg with the last Women's World Cup berth on the line.

File:2015 FIFA Women's World Cup logo.svgI'm paying attention to this playoff for multiple reasons.  I want to see the Soca Warriors make that history because it's their best shot to do so. With Trinidad and Tobago being a fellow CONCACAF member, I'd love to see another CONCACAF squad playing next June.

It also strikes a blow for women's sports in the region and will hopefully lead to better funding and corporate sponsorship if they pull it off.

There's a large cadre of Trinis that live here in Houston and I'd love to see the smiles on their faces if it happens.   Randy Waldrum,, the coach of the Houston Dash, is also the national coach of the Trinidad and Tobago women's squad

Will they do it?  We'll find out as the opening chapter of this sports story unfolds later today.

TransGriot Update:  Trinidad and Tobago 0-Ecuador 0  in a Leg 1 scoreless draw.  

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