World Cup qualification on Beach Soccer team’s radar

- “Any small country can make it”- Head Coach

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By Akeem Greene

With the draw for the Concacaf Beach Soccer Championship completed on Tuesday (April 9), team Guyana is now on the path to a possible FIFA World Cup 2019 qualification, should they finish in the top two of the Championship from May 13-19 in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Firstly, they need to surpass El Salvador, Guadeloupe and Belize, then battle through the knockouts to reach the final. The top two teams will head to Panama for the World Cup.

Though a humongous task, Head Coach Abdullah Hamid is not writing off team’s chances given the players are now well seasoned; the contention is it’s “an even playing field on the sand”.

“They [players] are pretty much confident given that when we got back [from South American Games in Argentina] I told them we will take a week’s rest and they said no because they know they have the World Cup qualifiers. They recognised the gap is not so far apart because we played against Colombia [ranked 24th] and Peru [ranked 26th] and scored goals,” Hamid explained.

Head Coach Abdullah Hamid

He added, “Once you are scoring goals against these big nations it means it is an even sport. It means any small country can make it to the World Cup because the sand directs where you are going to go. It is a balanced sport and it is far different from field football, and this is a great opportunity for Guyana to go forward.”

Judging from the group draw, Hamid stated himself and players are confident it gives a better chance to qualify for the quarter-finals.

There are 18 players under the pump of preparation, but it is a fluid process given the recent trip to Argentina. Hamid reflected he saw improvement with Guyana now ranked 68th in the world.

The coach said himself and the Technical Department of the Guyana Football Federation have drafted a plan to energise players to the peak of their powers, both physically and mentally.

Guyana will open their campaign against El Salvador on May 14, followed by a clash with Guadeloupe on May 15 and then Belize on May 16.

At the previous edition held in Bahamas, Guyana earned two wins in the group stages, defeating Belize 4-1 and Antigua 6-4. That was enough to earn them 12th place in the championship.

The nimble Jamal Haynes, who copped the Scotiabank Young Player Award at the championship, returns to the squad for the qualifiers.

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