By Neto Baptiste
Head coach of the country’s women’s under-20 football team, Karen Warner, said the players have exhibited confidence and continue to bond as a unit heading into their Group C opener against hosts Curacao in the 2021 Concacaf Under-20 Championships on Wednesday.
A 20-member squad departed Antigua for Curacao on Sunday where they will seek to advance from the three-team group and Warner believes the goal is achievable.
“For the past couple of months leading up to the tournament the girls are actually willing and you could see that they are putting in the time and effort so I am confident in the girls.
“The team is basically together [bonded], the energy in the team is very high, so for me, I think the girls want it more than even and I think they will go for it so whatever the results are I am fine with it but they are going for top of the group so hopefully we can come out on top in the group,” she said.
Antigua and Barbuda will face St Lucia on Friday and, following the round-robin play, the top team in each group will advance to the round of 16, joining the four qualifiers’ winners.
Warner, a senior national player, highlighted the challenges brought on by the Covid pandemic during the team’s preparation stages, adding that the players were able to overcome the struggle and are looking forward to the tournament.
“This time we had started training pretty early going into the tournament but because of the whole pandemic we got pushed back a little but basically, we will be coming up against two teams and chances are that it would be easier for us to come out of this group.
“St Kitts is normally our top competition because we are normally in a group with St Kitts and it’s always a tough fight where we either win or we draw with them, so going into this [group] I think that should be a plus for us,” she said.
The championships will see participation from Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Grenada, St Lucia, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Suriname, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Curaçao, Dominica, Belize, Martinique, and US Virgin Islands.
Squad: (Goalkeepers): Jewel Harve and Claieeba Thoma, (Defenders): Tassianne Benjamin, Nahila Nicholas, Tyanna Simon, Deborah Weston, Skyler Scavo and Maritza Baptiste. (Midfielders): Virginia Simon, Danesia Wilson, Brianna Auguiste, Jada Benjamin, Shunnye Christopher, Nicelle Drew, Kevoncia James, Denesia Samuel and Donesha Samuel. (Forwards): Monica Bird, Safiya Joseph and Rasijah Thomas.
Management staff: Karen Warner (head coach), Nikisha Samuel (assistant coach/goalkeeper coach), Jessica Hall (physiotherapist), Kevinia Francis (trainer), Lisa Cole (development director), Patrice Maile (manager) and Portia Davis (assistant manager).