Fruta Conquerors to compete in 2021 Concacaf Caribbean Club Shield
Fruta Conquerors, the winners of the 2019 GFF Elite League, will compete in the 2021 Concacaf Caribbean Club Shield, as the regional competition resumes following the cancellation of the 2020 edition due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Caribbean Club Shield is open to title-winning clubs from the 27 Caribbean Football Union (CFU) members that do not organise professional league football.
The top two teams from each of the four CFU nations with a professional league – the Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Haiti – compete in the top tier Concacaf Caribbean Club Championship.
“We are delighted to be given a chance once again to represent Guyana at the Concacaf Caribbean Club Shield,” said Fruta Conquerors President Colin Gittens.
“We were all very disappointed with the manner in which things turned out last year. Now that we are in the tournament, there is an atmosphere of excitement and purpose throughout the club – the players, staff and ExCo are really motivated and ready to get to work.”
Conquerors were the last team to represent Guyana in the Concacaf Caribbean Club Shield, finishing bottom of their group in 2019 and missing out on the knockout stages. Suriname’s Robinhood went on to claim the title, beating Martinique’s Club Franciscain 1-0 in the final.
“Based on that experience, our aspiration has always been to return and prove that we deserve to be competing as the top team locally,” Head Coach Sampson Gilbert said. “We give ourselves an even chance as any team in the tournament and with adequate preparation and motivation, we will perform well.”
As the GFF Elite League was cancelled in 2020, due to the pandemic, Guyana is eligible to enter the winners of the most recent edition of the league. The Tucville-based side dominated the 2019 season, finishing unbeaten with a goal difference of +38.
“I would like to thank President Forde and the GFF for their continued support, which is essential to making this a worthwhile endeavour,” Gittens said.
“Also we would like to thank our sponsors S.M. Jameel and Company Ltd and the Guyana Beverage Inc. family, our primary sponsor, for their continuous support throughout the years. Much thanks and appreciation is extended to all other stakeholders and sponsors who supported the club.”
This year’s competition is slated to take place between April 1-11. The winners of the tournament will play the fourth-placed team in the 2021 Caribbean Club Championship for a spot in the 2021 Concacaf League.
Sampson said coaching staff were preparing an intense, holistic schedule for the squad to ensure players were ready for the challenge ahead after a long period without competitive football.
“The club is proud to represent Guyana’s budding football development in the Shield. This is an opportunity to highlight our competence as national league champions and showcase young and developing talent in our country,” he said.
“Guyana’s football needs this exposure since we’re on the brink of World Cup and Gold Cup qualifiers, while also looking forward to the implementation of a professional league.”
The GFF is currently working with experts from European football’s governing body UEFA to develop a sustainable model for the launch of Guyana’s first professional league.