WCQ: Guyana in “competitive”, “winnable” group- GFF Head

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Guyana’s National Men’s football team has been drawn in Group F for the Concacaf qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup, slated for Qatar from November 21 to December 18, 2022.

President of the Guyana Football Federation, Wayne Forde, in giving an update on the squad’s preparation for the matches, said while the group is a competitive one, the Jaguars are capable of emerging as the top team.

The senior men’s team, commonly called the Golden Jaguars, will face Caribbean rivals Trinidad and Tobago, St. Kitts and Nevis, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas in their first step to possible World Cup qualification.

Forde confirmed that the first two games against Trinidad and Tobago and the Bahamas would be played in the Dominican Republic, and the Golden Jaguars’ final squad would be announced on March 17, the same day the team and staff will depart for the Dominican Republic.

Forde said the Federation is investing heavily into this window, both in terms of training and operational costs for the matches.

He added that the Federation is confident in the Jaguars chances of progressing beyond this stage of qualification.

Guyana will play Trinidad and Tobago on March 25 and the Bahamas on March 30.

Wayne Forde- President of the Guyana Football Federation

“Our group is clearly very competitive, but it is also winnable. We all know that the first game against Trinidad and Tobago will be the crunch tie. Getting this campaign off to a good start is crucial – these matches will set the tone for the rest of the year, not just for our World Cup journey but also for the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup,” Forde said on Tuesday during a press briefing.

“Our expectation is to come away from the Trinidad and Tobago match with a win – and certainly nothing less than a draw – and to beat the Bahamas. We have the talent, both domestic and international, and the expertise in terms of our coaching staff to deliver these results.”

A group of 27 domestic-based players have been in training under Head Coach Marcio Maximo five days a week since January 10 with ongoing weekly COVID-19 testing.

The latest test results from March 4 showed that all staff and players were in the clear, Forde reported.

“Training has been progressing well, with the squad showing the professional commitment, discipline and passion that we expect at this level. We are investing G$3.3 million monthly to cover the cost of the domestic training programme. This includes, travel, meals, medical, equipment and staffing,” Forde explained.

From left: Technical Director Ian Greenwood, President Wayne Forde, Coach Marcio Maximo and Scout Faizal Khan

The Football head further stated that the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association’s move to switch the game to the Dominican Republic has contributed to the Guyana Federation opting to have the Bahamas game there as well, noting that it was more feasible from a logistical and financial standpoint.

“We are also somewhat hamstrung by the UK’s decision to place Guyana on its COVID-19 “red list” of banned countries. This decision means that clubs would not be able or willing to release players for travel to Guyana. We are grateful to the Dominican Republic Football Association for accommodating us, and we have the full cooperation of the Bahamas Football Association, Concacaf and FIFA in this matter.”

“It is obviously disappointing to not be able to host a home match this time around, but we are hopeful that conditions will allow this in the next window in June.”

The switch to the Dominican Republic comes at an additional cost to the Guyana Football Federation, with the overall operating costs for this window being G$27 million, plus a further US$10,000 fee payable to the Dominican Republic Football Association for hosting the Bahamas contest.

Forde said he is confident the Dominican Republic FA will provide a professional and safe environment, alongside Concacaf’s strict match-day testing schedule.

The matches will be played behind closed doors, without spectators.

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