Trinidad & Tobago (pictured) will meet host Ecuador on November 8, 2014, in the first leg of their playoff for a 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup berth. (Photo: Mexsport)
QUITO, Ecuador -- Trinidad & Tobago has one lofty goal -- to become the first Caribbean team to qualify for the FIFA Women's World Cup.
So, it's quite appropriate the Soca Princesses will have to go to great heights to qualify for Canada 2015. They meet Ecuador in the first leg of a playoff series here Saturday for what will be the 24th and final spot.
Playing in the capital of this South American country always has been a challenge for Ecuador's rivals, given that the city is 9,350 feet (2,800 meters).
T&T head coach Randy Waldrum took up the invitation of his friend, Mexico manager Leonardo Cuellar, and had his team train in Mexico City for four days to become accustomed to the rarefied air.
"It was difficult because we are not used to training in that type of atmosphere," Trinidad standout forward Kennya Cordner said, "but for me personally, it wasn't that bad because I have played in Mexico several times before."
By virtue of finishing fourth at the CONCACAF Women's Championship last month in the United States, Trinidad failed to earn a direct World Cup berth, but it did secure an intercontinental playoff meeting with Ecuador – the third-place team in South America.
The Caribbean champion returned home for a few days ahead of traveling to Mexico City.
"It has helped us a lot because most of the girls have to get adapted to altitude, even if it's going to be much higher in Ecuador," added Cordner. "Most everybody was coping with it.
In the CONCACAF competition, Trinidad played a pair of 120-minute marathons 48 hours apart. It fell in a penalty-kick shootout to Costa Rica in the semifinals, before dropping an extra-time decision to Mexico in the match for third place.
Cordner figured that her teammates will be able to focus better knowing they will play only once on the road and then have three weeks to get ready for the return match at home on December 2.
"That was a bit tough," she said of the two games at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania. "This one is going to be much easier, despite the altitude. We just have to go out there and get the job done. Altitude is just a mindset. That's not the issue right now. We have to go out and get those three points on Saturday."