“We’ve got to be realistic”- Johnson reacts to Gold Cup defeat

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By Avenash Ramzan

Despite the final scoreline, Guyana’s Head Coach Michael Johnson said the players did an “absolutely fantastic job” against defending champions USA in their Concacaf Gold Cup debut on Tuesday evening.

Competing in the second match of Group D, Guyana endured a 4-0 defeat at the hands of the six-time Gold Cup champions at the Allianz Field Stadium in St. Paul, Minneapolis, conceding three goals in the second half.

Johnson believes his charges should be proud of their efforts, given the significant disparity between the two nations.

“I think we’ve got to be realistic here,” Johnson said at the post-match press conference. “We’re playing a team that we’re 125 places below in the FIFA rankings.” ***(It is actually 147 places below as of June 14, 2019)

“We’re playing against a team that has got over £100 million budget against our £1.5 million budget. We’re playing against a team where some of our players have to go to work. We’re playing against a team that constantly qualifies for big competitions; it’s our first time. Let’s be realistic here.”

Guyana’s starting line-up

Johnson continued, “The guys have done damn bloody well to reach this point. Do we want to go further? Of course. But there’s realism here, and the realistic thing is I thought with that said they’ve worked their socks off tonight and each one of them should be patted for not only what they’ve done before, but for tonight. Now moving forward, you gain the confidence from tonight and go ‘okay, we’ve got a great chance with lesser FIFA-ranked opposition.’ Let’s go again.”

Starting as underdogs, the Golden Jaguars did well to keep the hosts down to just a solitary goal in the opening half, via a strike from Paul Arriola in the 28th minute.

However, within the first 10 minutes of the second half, USA were up 3-0 with Tyler Boyd and Gyasi Zardes breaching the Jaguars’ defence. Boyd then completed a double, blasting the back of the net in the 81st minute.

Guyana had one clear chance at goal in the 69th minute, but Keanu Marsh-Brown’s shot was saved.

“It was a tough task tonight, and the lads give it their all. Everyone single one of them are on their knees; they’ve run, they give everything they could possibly give for their country tonight, but we go again in a few days time,” Johnson said.

With the win, USA have taken the top spot in Group D, ahead of Panama, who defeated Trinidad and Tobago 2-0 in the preceding game on Tuesday.

Guyana’s next match is against Panama on Saturday from 17:30h at FirstEnergy Stadium, followed by the final group game against Trinidad and Tobago on June 26 from 18:30h at Children’s Mercy Park.

The top two teams from each of the four groups would advance to the knockout stage, commencing June 29.

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