Selection challenges not unique to Guyana, says Forde

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By Avenash Ramzan

As the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) prepares for upcoming international engagements featuring the senior national Men’s team, the discussion around team selection, especially in the challenging COVID-19 setting, is once again trending in the football fraternity.

The Golden Jaguars are down for a busy opening half of 2021, with FIFA World Cup qualification and participation in the Concacaf Gold Cup on the horizon.

The predicament, if ever there was one, is that the COVID-19 restrictions imposed in Guyana have prevented local-based players from training, thereby putting them at a disadvantage when compared to foreign-based players, some of whom have recently resumed competitive action.

GFF President Wayne Forde

President of the GFF, Wayne Forde, commenting on matters regarding selection, said the challenges are not unique to Guyana.

“All things being equal, 2021 will be a rather exciting year for the Golden Jaguars. I am fully aware of how motivated every player within the existing pool is and how determined they all are to make the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification and Gold Cup squad,” Forde said.

He added, “The challenges that we will face in naming the final squad will be no different from what many of our Caribbean sister nations will have to confront as well.”

Forde said he has every confidence in Head Coach Marcio Maximo and his technical support staff, and expects to see a final list that reflects the established selection guidelines and is also consistent with goals the Federation has set itself for both tournaments.

“I wish to encourage each player within the national team pool to consider himself eligible for selection and be prepared to work hard and compete for those coveted spots,” Forde asserted.

Active players

Earlier this week, former Golden Jaguars player Vurlon Mills opined that the coaching staff should seek to enlist the services of those players who are currently engaged actively.

Mills, who retired from international duties earlier this year to focus on coaching, said: “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.”

Vurlon Mills represented Guyana’s Golden Jaguars in 30 games

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.”

The World Cup qualifiers, initially slated for October-November 2020, have been shifted to March 2021, while the Gold Cup Preliminaries are set for July.

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