,,, Maximo unfazed; shifts focus to Gold Cup Qualifiers
HEAD coach Marcio Maximo and his troops exited Warner Park in St Kitts and Nevis a depleted bunch, following their 2-0 defeat against Puerto Rico.
This was the third meeting between Puerto Rico and Guyana. They first faced each other in 1993 where Guyana went down 0-2, but in their following meeting, in 2016, Golden Jaguars walked away 1-0 winners, thanks to a goal from King Solomon Austin.
Maximo once again shuffled his pack of players for the game against the men from the Spanish-speaking Island. He started with captain Matthew Briggs, Terrence Vancooten, Liam Gordon and Miguel Scarlett at the back, while in the midfield, Daniel Wilson was paired with Jobe Caesar.
The Brazilian went with Stephen Duke-McKenna, Keanu Marsh-Brown and Omari Glasgow as his attack. Osafa Simpson was the lone striker used in the starting line-up.
It was Golden Jaguars’ final game in the FIFA 2022 Qatar World Cup Qualifiers and though it was of no consequence since they were already knocked out of the group, they were hoping to end on a ‘high’.
It was 17-year-old Wilfredo Rivera who put the Puerto Ricans in front 12 minutes into the contest. Rivera, who plays with Orlando City in USA’s Major League Soccer (MLS), was a thorn in the feet of the Guyanese defenders.
Dubious officiating in the 25th minute saw Puerto Rico being awarded a penalty, after the referee felt that defender Liam Gordon had brought the opposing player down in the ‘18’.
However, video replays showed that Gordon did not touch the player. Former New England Revolution defender, Isaac Angking, stepped up and sent goalkeeper Kai McKenzie-Lyle in the opposite direction, putting the Puerto Ricans up 2-0.
Stephen Duke-McKenna, coming back into the National side after almost two years, proved his worth by creating several chances for his teammates. But the Queens Park Rangers players could not find the target to cap a solid performance in his team games played, though Guyana’s results were not what the team had wanted.
Maximo should be happy with the performance of Briggs, who was named captain for the first time. The Denmark-based defender was superb for Guyana, but in the two games against St Kitts and Puerto Rico, Guyana conceded five goals.
Meanwhile, speaking to the media after the game, Maximo said he was satisfied with the team’s performance, not only in the two matches played from June 4 to 8, but also the entire World Cup campaign. In fact, yesterday’s game, according to Maximo, forms part of Guyana’s preparation for the team’s July 3 CONCACAF Gold Cup qualifier match against Guatemala in the USA.
“The team improved,” Maximo said, while adding that “everything is part of the preparation for Guatemala. Everybody showed what he can do. We competed today.”
Guyana would finish above only The Bahamas in the five-team group. St Kitts and Nevis will advance to the next round of the qualifiers, picking up three wins. Their only defeat came against Trinidad and Tobago. The team will return to Guyana and will have less than a month to prepare for the Gold Cup Qualifiers.