Assistant Golden Jaguars Coach Pollard positive ahead of Guatemala clash


Assistant Coach and former captain of the Golden Jaguars, Charles ‘Lily’ Pollard, has called for patience and positivity towards the national team programme ahead of what is likely to be a “tough challenge” against Guatemala on Saturday.

The Guyana senior national Men’s team takes on the Central American nation in Florida on July 3 in the preliminary round of the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup. It is the second consecutive appearance for Guyana’s Men’s team at the Gold Cup, following its historic qualification in 2019.

“We all know Guatemala is a very good team in the Central American region and the Caribbean,” Pollard said in an extended interview with GFFNOW, the Guyana Football Federation’s (GFF) media channel.

“It will be a tough challenge for us that I think every footballer should relish – young and old – because this is what we do. This is our game.”

Guatemala narrowly missed out on reaching the second round of 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification in the Concacaf region on goals scored, despite putting 10 goals past St Vincent and the Grenadines and finishing on equal points with group winners Curacao.

Guatemala has pedigree at regional level, winning the Concacaf Championship – the predecessor to the Gold Cup – in 1967 and reaching the Gold Cup quarter-finals as recently as 2011.

“We know it will be a tough game, but we are positive,” Pollard said. “The ball is round and anything can happen. We are preparing right but we have to believe as players and as staff. We are a Gold Cup team – we have proved ourselves in the Gold Cup, we went to the Gold Cup. We are not an ordinary team.”

The Golden Jaguars recently lost three of their four games in Group F of the World Cup Qualifiers (Photo: SKNFA)

The winners of Saturday’s match will play either Guadeloupe or the Bahamas for a place in the final rounds of the 2021 Gold Cup. Despite a disappointing World Cup qualification run, the Golden Jaguars have had a promising start to their preparations for the game against Guatemala.

In behind-closed-doors friendlies in Florida, the team beat Miami Dade FC 3-0 – with two goals from QPR’s rising star Stephen Duke-McKenna and one Omari Glasgow, before a lone strike from Ryan Khedoo was enough to beat the Bahamas.

Pollard said he shared in the fans’ disappointment following the recent World Cup qualifiers, but urged patience, unity and support for the Golden Jaguars as the national programme undergoes a necessary transition phase to “integrate a lot of young players” for the future.

“I was disappointed, but we know that it’s a process and the process will take time,” he said.

“The coaches believe that it will take time but it will become successful in the end. We have to be patient,” he added. “We are in a transition. We need to give the process a chance to allow it to grow. It won’t happen overnight. So we need to give the youngsters a chance and they will deliver.”

The match against Guatemala will kick off at 21:30h local time on Saturday and will be aired on Flow Sports. Pollard urged the nation to rally behind the Golden Jaguars. (GFF)

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