Golden Jaguars awaiting approval to restart local training for key tournaments

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By Akeem Greene

Initially, Guyana’s senior men’s national team, Golden Jaguars, would have started their campaign in the Concacaf World Cup qualifiers next month, with the possibility of little to no local sessions due to COVID-19 regulations.

However, those matches have been shifted to March 2021 and Head Coach Márcio Máximo said players are doing personal training as they all await the green light from government for such activities to resume.

“The postpone date have not affected our preparation; we prepare our national team, international players abroad play at a competitive level and our local players just wait to come back and start train together but many players from national team, the players are training individually,” the Brazilian native told News Room Sport Wednesday.

“So we just wait on the government’s permission, not only for football but all sports, permission to train and organise for players to come back strong like before,” he added.

After the draw in August for the first round of Concacaf World Cup Qualifying for Qatar 2022, Golden Jaguars were slated to play long-time rivals Trinidad and Tobago on October 8 in their first Group F fixture.

Their other matches are against The Bahamas, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Puerto Rico, all of whom they would have been played between the two FIFA windows, last of which of was November 17.

The predicament was the lack of domestic football, and then the pandemic putting a halt to the weekly sessions with local-based players at the Guyana Football Federation’s National Training Facility at Providence.

Golden Jaguars Head Coach, Márcio Máximo

Had the fixtures not shifted, the majority of the Concacaf nations would have entered the qualifiers with little preparation or opportunities for friendly fixtures.

Concacaf will now work with FIFA to finalise a new schedule, beginning with the first round in March 2021, which will be communicated in due course.

It means that Guyana will likely have to their World Cup qualifiers and Gold Cup preliminary matches closer together.

The new set-up for Concacaf’s flagship competition – The Gold Cup – will include a Preliminary Round prior to the 16-team Group Stage.

The preliminary round will include 12 Member Associations competing for the final three spots in the Group Stage.

It will be played as a direct elimination format, from July 2 to July 6, in a centralised location in the United States.

Guyana, for the first time, qualified for the Gold Cup in 2019 and finished third in their group containing eventual runners-up United States, Panama and Trinidad and Tobago.

Though a herculean undertaking, Maximo expressed confidence, once they can get to train and get to devise strategies, they can do well.

“We are very optimistic in our chance, not only in this [World Cup qualifier] group but even the Gold Cup. We are very optimistic we can do well and the objective is to do well in two competitions, not only qualifying for World Cup but Gold Cup as well.”

Though no remarks were given by the coach as it regards possible team composition, it could be a conundrum since Maximo has voiced since he started his tenure, he wants to give more opportunities to locally-based players.

But a lack of local football plus the pandemic could make such a bit more difficult to accomplish in this endeavour.

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