FOLLOWING the hosting of the successful Super 16 Cup championship, Guyana Football Federation (GFF) has now turned its focus back to the preparation of its Senior Men’s National Team (SMNT) and Under-20s for upcoming and very important qualifiers.
The senior ‘Golden Jaguars’ under the guidance of head coach Márcio Máximo are on a path to qualify for the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup but will have to cross two hurdles in order to punch their tickets.
As a result of ending second in Group C of the 2019-2020 CONCACAF Nations League (League B) behind group winners Jamaica, Guyana will now play a two-round qualifier in a direct elimination format against the League C (Group A) winners, Barbados.
Those matches will take place in March but the dates and venues are yet to be announced by CONCACAF. In an effort to be in pristine condition mentally, physically and otherwise, coach Máximo and his technical team have been putting in work on the pitch which re-started last week.
He noted that along with assistant coach Toledo Wilson and staff they have been putting in work at the office, mapping out their approach for training on the pitch which takes place five days each week.
Assistance is also given to the Under-20 team currently getting ready for the CONCACAF qualifying competition. On Saturdays both the senior and Under-20s train together with the direct aim of strengthening the U-20s ahead of their sojourn in Nicaragua, next month.
“We have been doing our work for the Barbados games which include studying tapes of their previous matches including friendlies. Barbados will be strong opponents but I know we’ll have the condition in order to win. We’ll go with the same confidence as before by training hard.”
Commenting on the role of the international players, coach Máximo informed that they will continue to use their quota of eight noting that that amount will not increase even though they might have tougher opponents to play going forward.
“We’ll stick with the eight because we have the challenge of developing local players too, despite the end result. Every player is important for me, international and local; the competition to make the final team will be the same here and overseas as players work hard to make the final cut. They all have to challenge and compete against each other and the best will come forward.”
A few friendly matches are being looked at to ensure the team have some competition before the March assignment.
“We expect friendly matches at the end of next month to test the local players’ level of readiness for the test at hand. I want to see the players who are ready to represent us because they should prove that they have the quality to be there.”
Meanwhile, GFF president Wayne Forde says his executive and members are fully behind coach Máximo and team.
“The Golden Jaguars will have to dig deep during these critical qualification playoff games. There is no question about the quality of players available to us but we also have to be respectful of the quality of players available to Barbados and Trinidad. Both teams are reaching deep into their respective Diaspora reservoirs to locate players who can improve their chances of qualifying for the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Coach Maximo has done a fantastic job with the team since his appointment, in particular he has really improved the quality of the local players and I am confident that our chances of qualifying are no different than that of Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago.”