Golden Jaguars shift focus to Concacaf Gold Cup Prelims

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After an ordinary performance in first round of the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers, Guyana’s senior national team will now aim to step up their game in the Concacaf Gold Prelims in early July.

Given the restrictions imposed by COVID-19, the Guyana Football Federation is looking to give the players much needed time in the host country to get into peak condition.

The Golden Jaguars are down to face Guatemala on July 3 in Miami in what is an expanded preliminary round of the Gold Cup Prelims.

“Head Coach Marcio Maximo and his technical staff must now shift their focus to preparing the team for their opening game against Guatemala on July 3rd, 2021 in Miami,” President of the Guyana Football Federation, Wayne Forde, said this week.

“We are planning to travel to Miami early, with the hope of playing two friendly games as part of our preparation for this important encounter. These friendly games are crucial in assessing the players’ level of match fitness and other performance benchmarks.”

While Guyana would no doubt hope for an improved performance from the World Cup Qualifiers, they face a side that narrowly missed out on making it to the second round of the Qualifiers.

Guatemala finished second in Group C to Curacao, with three wins from four games, compared to Guyana’s three defeats in four matches and a penultimate spot finish in Group F.

Guatemala is also the higher ranked nation at 127 in FIFA and 12 in Concacaf, while Guyana is 165 is FIFA and ranked 20 in Concacaf.

“There is no doubt that Guatemala will be a tough obstacle in advancing to the round of 16, and we should be realistic about our expectations. However, we expect the squad and staff to give everything they have to cause Guatemala some serious problems throughout the match, and we know the support of the fans can make all the difference,” Forde stated.

“After the Gold Cup, the team will not be in competitive action until next year. We will use this time to further strengthen the development of our domestic-based national team players together with a consistent level of local and international games.”

The draw for the Prelims involved the 12 national teams, which earned a place in the Gold Cup Qualifiers through their performances in the Concacaf Nations League group stage, which was played between September and November 2019.

This includes the bottom placed finishers in League A groups, the runners-up in League B groups and the winners of League C groups.

The top six teams based on the Concacaf Ranking were pre-seeded into match-ups one through six, and the next six were drawn from a single pot.

The Prelim games are: Haiti vs St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Guatemala vs Guyana; Trinidad vs Montserrat; Cuba vs French Guiana; Guadeloupe vs The Bahamas; and Bermuda vs Barbados.

After direct elimination play over three match-days between July 2 through July 6, 2021, the 12 teams will be reduced to a final three who will qualify for the Gold Cup Group Stage.

Based on the draw, should Guyana beat Guatemala, they would go on to face either Guadeloupe or The Bahamas. If they win that second contest, they will qualify in Group C.

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