Lady Jags to battle Mexico today for Group D’s top spot in U-20 Women’s championship

0
239
Guyana’s Kiana Khedoo (#10) battles Puerto Rico’s Zoemi Cobián during the Lady Jags’ 2–1 win in the CONCACAF U-20 Women’s Championship, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. (Photo compliments: Mexport/CONCACAF

By Rawle Toney

GUYANA will play Mexico for the first time since 2010 in female football, when the two square off today in their final group match in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship in the Dominican Republic from 15:00hrs.

At stakes in today’s game is Group D’s pole position, since both countries have already booked their place in the tournament’s knockout stage which starts on Sunday, February 29.

The Lady Jags, hunting for a place in 2020 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, opened their campaign in Santo Domingo with a 3-1 win over Nicaragua followed by an impressive 2-1 victory over Puerto Rico 2 in their second game.

The Mexicans, on the other hand, edged Puerto Rico 2-1 in their first game and then returned in their second match of the tournament to whip Nicaragua 4-0, to sit atop the group with a superior goal difference (+2) and set-up a mouth-watering final group-stage game against Guyana.

“Mexico are the ‘class’ of the tournament; Mexico, USA, Canada, they’ve proved to be in the finals time-and-time again. Probably the most skilled players on this team, they can serve great balls, they’re good with the air, they’re good one-v-one; we’ll have our work cut out for us,” head coach Dr Ivan Joseph told Chronicle Sport in an exclusive interview from the exotic Spanish-speaking Island.

Mexico came into this year’s championship with a point to prove, and will want to show that their 4-2 penalty kicks win over CONCACAF rivals the USA in the final of the 2018 championship in Trinidad and Tobago was no fluke.

The USA had stopped Mexico in the finals of 2010 and 2014, while the Central Americans had finished third in 2006, 2008, 2012 and 2015.

A win for Guyana today will see them play Grenada on Sunday, while a defeat will land them against the winners of Group H which comprises Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti, the Cayman Islands and St Kitts & Nevis.

“We’re both playing for first in our bracket, so the games are going to have meaning,” Dr Joseph added, while noting that “we’re playing to secure first, while also balancing our players so that they’re well-rested for that first round sudden-death playoff (on Sunday February 29). We don’t want to win first with the expense of injuries or depleting the resources of our team, so we’re thinking about that as we prepare.”

The last time the two countries met in a women’s football match, Mexico walked away 7-2 winners in the CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup, which was hosted in Cancun, Mexico. Guyana’s goals came from Mariam El-Masri, and current U-20 Assistant coach, Kayla De Souza