CARY, North Carolina -- Trinidad & Tobago and Panama, two teams with dreams of qualifying for their first FIFA Women's World Cup, will kick off the 2018 concacaf Women's Championship on Thursday night.
They will play in a Group A match at Sahlen's Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park at 5 p.m. ET.
The Soca Princesses' most impressive showing came in 2014 when they came very close to booking a spot at the 2015 Women's World Cup. They finished second to the United States before losing to Costa Rica in a shootout in the semifinals. Two days later, T&T dropped a 4-2 extratime decision to Mexico. In one final attempt to qualify, Trinidad lost to Ecuador, South America's third-place team, in a home-and-home series.
T&T, the only Caribbean team to participate in every CWC, finished second to Jamaica in the 2018 final Caribbean qualifying round. The squad boasts several attackers in Kayla Taylor, who led all goal-scorers (seven) in the 2018 Caribbean qualifiers, Mariah Shade (six), Tasha St. Louis (five) and Kennya Cordner, who stood out in the 2014 competition. Goalkeeper Kimika Forbes also was outstanding at that tournament.
Anton Corneal coaches Trinidad.
Panama hopes to emulate success of its men's team, which participated in its first World Cup in Russia this past summer.
Coached by former Panamanian international Amarelis De Merahe, Los Canaleros finished second behind Costa Rica in Central American qualifying. They booked their spot in the final eight, overcoming a 2-1 deficit to register a 6-2 victory over El Salvador as Kenia Rangel connected for a second-half hat-trick. Karla Riley also scored three qualifying goals.
The U.S. and Mexico meet in the second game of the doubleheader.