‘Disappointing’, ‘heartbreaking’: GFF President reflects on Guyana’s early exit from WCQ
By Avenash Ramzan
“We are all very disappointed.”
That was the reaction of President of the Guyana Football Federation (GFF), Wayne Forde, following Guyana’s early exit from the Concacaf 2022 World Cup Qualifiers.
The Golden Jaguars did not make it past the first round, losing four of their five games in Group F. On Tuesday, Forde engaged the local media and reflected on a plan that never really materialised.
The aim, from the inception, was to advance to the second round of the Qualifiers. That essentially meant Guyana had to top the group, as only the table-toppers would qualify for the next phase of qualification.
The Jaguars, by virtue of a lackluster showing, ended fourth in the five-team group, winning just a solitary game.
That victory- a 4-0 result- came against the The Bahamas, but they lost 3-0 to Trinidad and Tobago and St. Kitts and Nevis and 2-0 to Puerto Rico.
“The Golden Jaguars’ 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign did not go as we had planned or expected and we are all very disappointed. While there are positives to take away from each game, not least the promising performances of our young talent, it was heartbreaking to see the team consistently conceding soft goals in the early stages of the three games that we lost,” Forde stated during the briefing at the GFF National Training Facility at Providence.
The senior national team’s next assignment is the Concacaf Gold Cup Prelims in early July, but according to Forde, the bigger goal lies ahead and efforts would now be focused on making that possible.
“The GFF has consistently stated that its strategic focus is to qualify for the expanded FIFA 2026 World Cup and, while four years may seem to be a long time ahead, it is our intention to start the integration of new talent into the national team programme now by building a squad that will reach its peak in time for that qualification process,” the GFF head explained.
“However, we also understand the importance of maintaining public confidence as we pursue this ambitious goal. As a stepping stone towards this ultimate goal, it was one of the senior men’s national team’s targets this year to reach the second phase of qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. We would, therefore, have to accept that, while the successful integration of some potential stars of the future can be considered an encouraging step forward, the recent performance of the team fell short of creating the momentum we had hoped for.”
Forde highlighted that the lack of warm-up games ahead of the Qualifiers was an unavoidable setback, and that situation manifested due to the prevailing conditions enforced by the pandemic.
“Despite the extensive work being done with our domestic-based national team players, we have to acknowledge that the lack of competitive game time has proven to be rather unforgiving. This is not for a lack of effort – the GFF had negotiated three international friendlies as part of our preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers: two against Suriname and one against Nicaragua,” Forde said.
“Unfortunately, both nations were unable to meet those commitments due to factors brought about by the COVID-19 situation here in Guyana and within their respective countries. The resulting absence of these crucial warm-up games was an unavoidable set-back in the team’s preparation.”