CONCACAF Women’s U-20 World Cup qualifying tournament

FLASHBACK! The Lady Jags, following their undefeated run in the CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship Qualifying round, at the National Track and Field Centre. (Samuel Maughn photo)

… Lady Jags head coach looking to go all the way

By Rawle Toney

DR IVAN Joseph, head coach of Guyana’s women’s U-20 team, believes that Guyana have what it takes to go all the way in the February 22–March 8 CONCACAF U-20 Women’s Qualifier tournament in the Dominican Republic.

Dr Joseph, speaking with Chronicle Sport, said the composition of the team is one that is capable of coming out of Group D, where Guyana are placed alongside Mexico, Puerto Rico and Nicaragua.

The Lady Jags will kick things off on February 23 when they come up against Nicaragua, and will then suit up against Puerto Rico on February 25, before facing Mexico on February 27 in their final Group D game.

“We have a great group of players who have been training in anticipation of the championship in February,” said Lady Jags coach.

He added that he was “lucky enough to have several of our players playing football in the United States universities, a few in Canadian universities and a few who have been playing year-round with their clubs. On top of that, what we’ve done also is put together several of our top players in an indoor league, so they’ll have continuity of our system.”

Stressing on the difficulty of putting together a squad worthy enough of not only competing at the Championship, but also qualifying, Dr Joseph opined, “I would be lying to you if I said it was an easy task, pulling together a national team that’s from multiple countries, from the Diaspora; but the good news is that we’re all committed to the same thing and trying to get better and get fit.”

However, with the absence of any meaningful and continuous female football programme in Guyana, Dr Joseph said, “I’m nervous that our Guyana-based players, who don’t have the same level of playing meaningful games, may be missing a step off of speed, but we’ll do the best we can.”

The Canada-based Lady Jags coach hinted that the team, with the addition of some new players, will have more depth than the one he featured who played undefeated during the preliminary round of matches, hosted in Guyana last year.

He told Chronicle Sport, “People will see a stronger team than the one we fielded this summer. The only prohibiting factor is that we need to get some games in before the tournament.”

CONCACAF announced earlier this week, that their Council had determined that Costa Rica and Panama, as host countries of the World Cup, will automatically qualify to the World Cup and will no longer participate in the 2020 CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship, meaning that the two remaining slots in the World Cup will be determined via the 2020 CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship.

For the group stage of the 2020 CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship, to be played at the Felix Sanchez Stadium and Panamericano Stadium, in Santo Domingo and San Cristobal, respectively, Guyana (top-ranked team in qualifying Group A) and St Kitts & Nevis (top-ranked team in qualifying Group B) will be replacing Costa Rica and Panama for the group stage of the final championship.

In Group C, the United States, Honduras, Dominican Republic and Cuba will go head-to-head, while Group E is set with Canada, Jamaica, Guatemala and El Salvador and in Group F Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, St Kitts & Nevis and Cayman Islands.

For the Round-of-16, Bermuda (third-place finishers in qualifying Group A) and Barbados (third-place finishers in qualifying Group B) will occupy the positions vacated by Guyana and St Kitts &Nevis.

All knockout round matches (round of 16, quarterfinal, semifinal and final) will be played in a single match elimination format, with the finalists qualifying for the FIFA Women’s U-20 World Cup 2020.