Mills wants best active Golden Jaguars players to be given the nod


By Akeem Greene

With most of the Concacaf nations still not out of the woods as it regards handling the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous travel restrictions, and some having limited social interaction in their countries, preparing for a FIFA World Cup qualifying tournament would have been extremely difficult.

Former Golden Jaguars player, Vurlon Mills, is of the opinion that the Golden Jaguars coaching staff should seek to enlist the services of those players who are currently engaged actively.

Mills’ comments came as the Guyana Football Federation prepares for a busy first half of 2021 for the senior national Men’s team.

A lifeline has been given, as those qualifiers have been pushed to March of 2021 – initially slated for October and November 2020 – while the Gold Cup preliminaries are in July.

But practically, it may not truly help the situation for local Golden Jaguars players due to the constant rise in COVID-19 cases here.

Retired National Footballer, Vurlon Mills

The alarming rate of increase would presumably delay the approval for sport activities to fully resume, which poses the challenge of integrating local-based players, who are lacking practice and game time, into the squad.

Notably, there has been no Elite League since May 2019, and Head Coach Márcio Máximo has repeatedly stated he wants to give regular opportunities to local-based players.

Majority of overseas-based players are in engaged in regular matches with the restart of football in Europe and the United States of America.

Mills, who retired from international duties earlier this year to focus on coaching, feels those players who are engaged in consistent football, should get the nod.

“Coach Máximo has a noble and fantastic idea of giving more local-based players the opportunity to be part of the Golden Jaguars but in this situation, we got to be fair and I think it is best we go with players who are active and who are involved with tournaments at this time because we need our best active players to be representing the Golden Jaguars if we are going to qualify in these tournaments,” Mills related to News Room Sport on Monday.

Golden Jaguars Head Coach, Márcio Máximo

Though difficult, Mills still hopes local players can find a way in the squad on the basis of past pedigree and current fitness level.

Prior to COVID-19 restrictions, local players had regular sessions at the training facility at Providence.

“I definitely think we can still involve some of our more active local players whose main focus is being disciplined and have been doing their personal training to be involved in the Golden Jaguars squad for the World Cup qualifiers.”

He added, “This would boost our local content a lot; Coach Máximo is a coach who focuses on the development and so far he has tried to involve U-23 players, U-20 players so that the programme can keep building and can keep growing and the involvement of local players will mean so much to us. A lot of these youngsters that come through, it would be a dream to be a part of the Golden Jaguars squad.”

“Even without the existence of training and local tournaments, I think we should still involve a few local players so we will still have that hope and dream to be a part of the Golden Jaguars squad.”

Mills, who played in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, where Guyana exited in the third round – before the Hexagonal round where the three automatic qualifiers are decided –  felt it will be difficult but Guyana’s chances are bright at both tournaments.

“Every team in the Caribbean is going through this phase, with exception of Trinidad and Jamaica, who have started training already; every other team is going through this phase and it is going to be a challenge for us to compete but I think with Coach Máximo and his plans and staff, I think the Golden Jaguars have a bright future in competing and qualifying in these tournaments.”

The definitive dates for the CONCACAF FIFA 2022 World Cup qualifiers are not set, but the preliminary rounds of the Gold Cup will be held from July 2-6 in the United States of America.

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