GFF President on WCQ: “I have reasons to be optimistic”
By Avenash Ramzan
While acknowledging it is an uphill task, President of the Guyana Football Federation, Wayne Forde, said he has reasons to be optimistic about Guyana’s chances in the World Cup Qualifier games this month.
In an exclusive interview with News Room Sport, the Federation head spoke of his expectations of the team for the two games in St. Kitts and Nevis.
The Golden Jaguars, currently third in Group F, are down to face the hosts on Friday (June 4) and Puerto Rico on June 8, with both fixtures taking place on the island due to logistical challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Only the top team from each group will qualify for the second round of the Concacaf qualifiers.
For these two games, Head Coach Marcio Maximo has made six changes from the squad that faced Trinidad and Tobago and the Bahamas in March, with captain Sam Cox missing out and Matthew Briggs taking over the leadership role.
“I think Coach Maximo understands how important it is for us as an organisation and for the nation to get beyond the first round. He understood that from day one and I think he is constantly thinking about how to achieve that,” Forde told News Room Sport in a recent interview.
“However, he also has to balance the fact that we really want to create early opportunities for experience in some of our talented players. Unless we can inspire young footballers to want to make a commitment to work hard towards that ultimate goal, which is putting on the Golden Jaguars shirt and going out there and representing the country, then we’re not doing what we’re mandated to do.”
“Guyana has to always put out the best possible team on the pitch, but at the same time, there needs to be a delicate balance established between giving our local players (opportunities), who you are investing tremendous amount of resources in.”
Forde added that the only reason a decision was made to have a national team coach living in Guyana was because he felt that locally there was the “fundamental qualities” that could be developed to another level.
Earning a call-up for these upcoming matches were Liam Gordon, Kevin Layne, Javier George, Marcus Wilson, Stephen Duke-McKenna and Osafa Simpson, while Kadell Daniel, Sam Cox, Ryan Hackett, Callum Harriott, Jeremy Garrett and Nicholas McArthur were the ones to miss out.
“It is important for us to get there (the second round). We know football is what happens on the day. We know there is a fair amount of inexperience in the camp, but we know there is a good balance of experience as well,” Forde expressed.
“I know Coach Maximo is going to manage that team well. I have reasons to be optimistic, based on the work that has gone into the preparation. It’s an uphill task, but we’re not daunted by that.”
In the earlier games in March, Guyana was due to host the Bahamas and play away to Trinidad and Tobago, but both games were shifted to the Dominican Republic, owing to the COVID-19 protocols in Trinidad at the time.
The victory over the Bahamas pushed Guyana to third on the table on three points. Trinidad and Tobago sit second on four points, while St. Kitts and Nevis lead the table with the maximum six points from two matches.
Puerto Rico (one point) and the Bahamas (zero) complete the table.
Golden Jaguars squad:
Goalkeepers: Akel Clarke (Mount Pleasant Academy), Kai McKenzie-Lyle (Cambridge United FC), Shawn Adonis (Guyana Police Force FC).
Defenders: Miguel Scarlett (Colchester United), Matthew Briggs (Vijle Boldk), Liam Gordon (Bolton Wanders FC), Nicolai Andrews (Santos FC), Bayli Spencer-Adams (Watford FC), Terence Vancooten (Stevenage FC), Kevin Layne (Mount Pleasant Academy).
Midfielders: Nathan Moriah-Welsh (Bournemouth FC), Javier George (Stade Beaucairois 30 FC), Daniel Wilson (Guyana Defence Force FC), Jobe Caesar (Guyana Defence Force FC), Marcus Wilson (Santos FC), Pernel Schultz (Guyana Police Force FC).
Forwards: Stephen Duke-McKenna (Queen’s Park Rangers FC), Keanu Marsh-Brown (Wrexham AFC), Omari Glasgow (Fruta Conquerors FC), Kelsey Benjamin (Guyana Defence Force FC), Osafa Simpson (Guyana Police Force FC), Trayon Bobb (Uitvlugt Warriors FC) and Ermey Welshman (Hapoel Raanana).