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Calypso Spikers renew rivalry with Puerto Rico

Friday, July 20, 2018
Cruz to quit after World Championships
Coach Francisco “Panchee” Cruz, front row left, poses with T&T senior women's volleyball team and fellow technical staff during the recently concluded 17th Women's Pan American Cup at the Ricardo Arias Pavilion, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Photo by:NORCECA

T&T senior women’s volleyballers will open their campaign at the XXIII Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games versus Puerto Rico at Humberto Perea Coliseum from 3 pm today in Barranquilla, Colombia.

However, the team’s preparations for the tournament and for the rest of the year, inclusive of the FIVB World Championship in Japan in September has been rocked by the impending resignation of the Cuba-born T&T coach, Francisco "Panchee" Cruz.

Speaking on Wednesday night ahead of the competition in Colombia, T&T coach, Cuban-born Cruz said: "My team is very tired. We don’t have the proper preparation for such an active season. We were in Canada (Challenge Cup), in Suriname for the Caribbean Cup and then in Santo Domingo for the Pan American Cup.

"Only well-prepared teams are capable to perform at this rhythm, this is not our case because we never train.

"I have faced this problem for 12 years since I took charge of the team and I have presented my resignation effective after the FIVB world championship. This competition is part of our preparation for worlds," said Cruz, who has led the team to the last seven CAZOVA titles as well as debut appearances at the World Grand Prix (last year) and a spot in next month’s World Championship during his tenure.

The 24-team FIVB World Championship takes place in six cities in Japan from September 29 to October 20.

Today’s encounter between T&T women and Puerto Rico comes 11 days after both teams tallied the third highest combined points total in the history of the Women’s Pan American Cup (226 points) which ended in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic on Saturday last.

Recent winners of the Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (CAZOVA) Women’s Championship for a record seventh straight time and eighth overall in Suriname, T&T, coming off an 11th-place finish at the Pan American Cup will then face Colombia on Saturday ahead of their final round-robin Pool B match with Costa Rica a day later.

With the sudden death of a national colleague, senior men's team goalkeeper Kwasi Emmanuel (21) on Saturday last due to a heart attack, this country’s senior women’s hockey team will flick off its Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games campaign today.

T&T will face Guatemala in their Pool B opener from 2 pm before matches versus Barbados on Sunday from 12 noon, and Jamaica to end round-robin play on Tuesday, from 2 pm to end pool play.

The ‘Calypso Stickwomen’, gold medal winners in 2002 and 2010, both on Puerto Rican soil and fourth in 2006 in the Dominican Republic, as well as four years ago in Vera Cruz, Mexico after a 2-1 loss to the host.

Earlier this month the Anthony Marcano-coached national team warmed up for the CAC Games by topping a Tri-Nation Series which included hosts Barbados and Guyana at Wildey Hockey Turf, Wildey, Barbados.

T&T drew 0-0 and defeated Barbados 1-0 while against Guyana, T&T co-captained by Amie Olton and Teresa Lezama went under to Guyana 1-0 but rebounded for a 3-1 win in their second match.

In addition to captain Olton, the T&T women's team also feature three of her sisters in Kaitlyn, Samantha and Sarah, making it the first time four siblings had featured for T&T on the same national team.

The deceased Emmanuel and his two other brothers, Kieron and Kristien held that honour as the first sibling trio to represent T&T at a Pan American Junior Men's Hockey Championship in Toronto, Canada in 2016.

This country’s Under-20 men’s football team will kick off their Group A round-robin matches at the CAC Games versus Honduras at the Romelio Martinez Stadium, Barranquilla, from 5 pm today.

The Russell Latapy-coached T&T squad which will also face Costa Rica on Sunday and Colombia on Tuesday are using the tournament as part of their preparations for the CONCACAF Men’s Championship in November which also serves as the FIFA U-20 World Cup qualifiers.

"The main focus is on preparation for the U-20 Qualifiers at CONCACAF Level in November so the squad selection for the CAC Games was made with that in mind," Latapy said prior to the team’s departure last weekend.

Group B comprises Mexico, Venezuela, Haiti and El Salvador. The semifinals take place with the top two teams from each group on July 28, with the gold and bronze medal matches set for July 31.

Three hours after the local men's footballers open their tournament, T&T’s senior women’s footballers coached by Jamaal Shabazz will open its Group B account against Mexico at the Estadio Moderno Julio Torres from 8 pm (TT time).

The local women’s team will the face Nicaragua two days later (July 22) before closing off its campaign against Haiti Tuesday.

The top two teams from the group will advance to take on the top two team in Group A, which comprises hosts Colombia, Venezuela, Jamaica and Costa Rica.


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