Lady Jags confident of solid performance at World Cup qualifiers

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Members of the Guyana Senior Women’s National Team are confident of delivering a strong performance in the first stage of the region’s revamped qualification for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, following the 2022 Concacaf W Championship qualifiers draw last weekend.

The Lady Jags will face Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica, Nicaragua, and the Turks and Caicos Islands in Group F of the regional qualifiers, which will be played in November 2021 and April 2022.

The six winners of each group will progress to the Concacaf W Championship – the next step on the journey to the World Cup, the 2024 Olympics, and the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup.

Lady Jags star Kayla De Souza, stated in a release by the Guyana Football Federation (GFF): “I am excited to see the teams we’ve been grouped with for the first round. Each of these nations will bring different challenges, and I feel with the group we have this will be a great test to help prepare us for the next phase of qualifiers.”

“Dominica and Turks and Caicos are nations that will give us a challenge right from the start. These two games will allow us to grow as a team as we prepare to face the likes of Trinidad and Tobago later on our qualifying journey. I am confident with the leadership of our staff and veterans, mixed with our up-and-coming talent, we will be able to find the right solutions to perform,” she further expressed.

Kayla De Souza

The Lady Jags are ranked 88th in the world by FIFA and 15th by Concacaf in the region, although a lack of game time for many Caribbean national teams throughout the COVID-19 pandemic makes it difficult to gauge current form.

However, a strong performance by Guyana’s upcoming talent in the nation’s first appearance at the 2020 Concacaf Women’s U20 Championship – where the team reached the quarter-finals – bodes well for the future.

“While they have not played since 2018, the senior women’s team is looking forward to their opening-round games to build on the momentum from the U20 tournament results,” said Head Coach Ivan Joseph.

“We have a lot of preparation to do in order to be ready for the opening round games against Dominica as well as Turks and Caicos. We will approach our goal of qualifying for the tournament one step at a time.”

“Our number one priority is to select our team from a quality pool and have a team camp in early fall prior to our opening home and away stance,” Joseph said. “We have been waiting for this tournament for over three years. Our women feel like we have something to prove and won’t be satisfied with anything but our best effort.”

Domestic-based Lady Jags and female youth national players have already started training at the

GFF National Training Centre (NTC), under the guidance of Akilah Castello, who is in charge of the Guyana-based programme.

“It’s a tough group with some challenging teams in it, but we’ve been doing a lot of work at them NTC with the girls and they’ll certainly be well prepared for the games,” Castello said.

Akilah Castello

The domestic-based players have been working on building up their fitness and enhancing their technical and tactical skills after an enforced long break caused by the pandemic. The spirit among the group is positive as they push for selection in the final squad.

“I think we got a fairly good group, but we have to ensure we win our first two matches,” said GFF administrator and Lady Jags forward Lakeisha Pearson. “Nicaragua will be a tough match, but I believe we can come out on top because we’ll have a chance to see them play before our match, so we’ll have a good game plan.”

The GFF is planning to relaunch the GFF-Always National Women’s Development League, alongside youth competitions for girls, as soon as approval for the safe return to play is granted by the authorities. The U17 female national team will also be in action this year in the regional Concacaf competition.

“We’re excited about the launch of the new senior women’s national team competitions schedule for 2021 through 2024, which will give our Lady Jags a platform to excel in the new Concacaf women’s ecosystem,” said GFF Technical Director Ian Greenwood. (GFF)

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