Fernandes optimistic despite setbacks; Fiedtkou to lead
By Avenash Ramzan
The Pan American Indoor Hockey Cup begins today in Spring City, Pennsylvania, USA, with Guyana taking on top seed and defending champions the USA in their opening game at 11:30h.
A challenging curtain raiser for Guyana was made even tougher with the loss of two players on the eve of the competition. The experienced and prolific striker Sonia Jardine picked up an ankle injury, while skipper Gabriella Xavier had to pull out of the five-team tournament after contracting COVID-19.
Senior national player Marzana Fiedtkou will now assume the leadership role, Coach Philip Fernandes indicated on Thursday afternoon following the team’s lone training session ahead of competition.
Fernandes, while indicating the services of Jardine and Xavier would be greatly missed in the forward line and midfield, noted that enthusiasm in the camp is still high, and the young group of players are eager to hit the court.
“The team looks settled and comfortable, despite the difficulties of having lost two players, and also playing on a new surface for the first time,” Fernandes observed.
“The team is young, but they seemed confident. I personally think it’s been a good lead-up to this tournament and I think it’s going to be quite a challenge, but I feel they will be up to the task of being competitive, and perhaps even pulling off good results. So we’re hopeful.”
The loss of two players has forced Fernandes to make structural adjustments to the line-up, with skipper Fiedtkou set to take on an even more significant playing role.
“We’ve lost a key striker, key midfield player, which means we will have to use some of our defensive players to step up into midfield, so we can push some midfield (players) forward,” Fernandes explained.
“The new captain Marzana Fiedtkou is going to have to play a more demanding role in the centre and she will be utilised a lot more in the middle, as opposed to controlling the game from the back. Likewise, we will have to push some of the younger players like Sarah Klautky forward to try to make up for any scoring deficit that may come.”
The Pan American Indoor Cup was last played in 2017 in Guyana, the first time the country hosted the event.
Following the clash against USA, Guyana will play 2017 runners-up Argentina at 18:00h, followed by clashes against Canada (11:30h) and Uruguay (16:00h) on Saturday. The final and third place playoff will take place on Sunday.
Guyana is the lowest ranked of the five nations at 31, with USA at 12, Argentina 15, Canada 17 and Uruguay 21.
The competition will be held under strict COVID-19 protocols, which include no spectators at the facility, and the teams being confined to a bubble with no outside contact for the duration of the competition.
Team Guyana has benefitted from the support of major sponsors GTT, the Ministry of Sport, the Guyana Olympic Association and Bounty Farm Limited, while MVP Sports has provided the players with training vests.
The full Guyana squad reads: Abosaide Cadogan, Alysa Xavier, Gabriella Xavier, Ashley DeGroot, Trisha Woodroffe, Sarah Klautky, Madison Fernandes, Aliyah Gordon, Clayza Bobb, Marzana Fiedtkou and Makeda Harding. Coach: Philip Fernandes; Manager: Princessa Wilkie.