After the biggest FIFA Women’s World Cup™ qualifying campaign in history - 129 nations playing over 400 qualifiers - there are just 90 minutes remaining until the final composition of the 24-nation field for Canada 2015 is known. Trinidad & Tobago host Ecuador in an intercontinental play-off with both nations seeking maiden qualification to the global stage. The tie sits on a knife-edge after the pair played out a tense scoreless draw in Quito in early November. For the players, at stake is not only qualification to Canada 2015, but the chance to write their names in the nation’s football history, and perhaps even help kick-start women’s football in their respective homelands.
*Trinidad & Tobago – Ecuador, Port of Spain, 2 December, 18:00 (local time)
*The Hasely Crawford Stadium in the Trinidad capital has witnessed many famous events, including two FIFA youth World Cup finals, and, perhaps most memorably in the eyes of locals fans, a leg of the FIFA World Cup intercontinental play-off which saw Trinidad & Tobago famously qualify for Germany 2006. Now the same history-making opportunity awaits the Soca Princesses. T&T, under the guidance of highly-experienced American coach Randy Waldrum, elected to focus on local camp preparation with a largely U-21 team attending last week’s Central American and Caribbean Games. Prior to the opening leg in Quito, the Soca Princesses had been battle hardened thanks to five tough games at October’s CONCACAF Championship, which doubled as Canada 2015 qualifiers.
Though T&T may have the edge heading into the contest, Ecuador know that a single away goal could change the complexion of the tie in an instant. Already they have proven their resilience to reach this stage. They rescued their CONMEBOL campaign in the final outing of an exhausting seven-match campaign by coming from the brink of defeat at two goals down against Argentina to win 3-2 and advance to the play-off. So far, Ecuador have played all their qualifiers on home soil, including that tense opening leg last month in front of an impressive crowd in the Ecuadorian capital. How Vanessa Arauz’s side adapt to playing in foreign territory will go a long way to determining the 24th and final team to earn a ticket to Canada.
3 – The number of South American nations to have previously featured at a FIFA Women’s World Cup; Brazil, Argentina and Colombia.
*Players to watch
*Pacy Kennya Cordner is arguably the jewel in the T&T crown. Lithe and elusive, the free-running forward or wide midfielder was the only T&T player named in the CONCACAF Championship all-star team alongside a host of big-name USA players. The 26-year-old has a rare level of experience among those in the Soca Princesses’ ranks having played in England Sweden, Australia and in the US for top NWSL outfit Seattle Reign.
Influential forward Andrea Pesantes is recognised as one of the driving forces in the Ecuador team. One of the first picked by coach Arauz, Pesantes is a technically gifted player who has played in defence and midfield during her career, but is now a settled member of the forward line. “I have the energy to lift the team and push it to victory,” she says.
The words *
“I think we’ve got to prepare ourselves for a very strong challenge from them. They are maybe under much less pressure being away from home and they will try to spoil our party,” *Trinidad & Tobago coach Randy Waldrum.
"The girls have understood the game situations that may arise, there is a lot of responsibility on their shoulders but the group is committed to achieving this goal," Ecuador coach Vanessa Arauz.