Head Coach Dover names U-20 Men’s squad for Concacaf Qualifiers

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Head Coach Wayne Dover has selected his final squad for the 2022 Concacaf Under-20 Championship qualifying rounds in November, following an extensive talent identification process that ranged from the remote hinterland in Guyana to the North American diaspora.

Guyana has been drawn into Group D of the Concacaf qualification process with matches against the Cayman Islands (November 6), US Virgin Islands (November 8), and Nicaragua (November 10) to be played in the Dominican Republic.

The winner of each qualification group will progress to the round of 16 finals tournament next year.

“With the national men’s U-20 team encamped, it gives us, as the coaching staff, the opportunity to work closely daily with the group with the aim of building a formidable squad to compete in this year’s CONCACAF Men’s U-20 Championship qualifiers in November,” said Coach Dover, whose coaching staff includes Golden Jaguars Assistant Coach Charles Pollard, former national player Anthony Benfield, and Guyana Football Federation Goalkeeping Coach Eon DeVeira.

“The technical staff of the team are very optimistic about our chances of qualifying for the next round,” former Golden Jaguars Head Coach Dover said.

“Of course, we’re cognisant of the fact that it will not be an easy group to negotiate our way out of, but we’ll give it our best shot.”

The diverse 20-man squad features four players from Santos FC, three from Georgetown FC, and three players from Fruta Conquerors, including star forward Omari Glasgow, who shone in his first appearances for the Guyana Senior Men’s National Team in FIFA World Cup qualifiers earlier this year.

Two upcoming stars from Rupununi Football Association clubs, one from Grove Hi Tech (East Bank Football Association), and seven based overseas in the United States and Canada football pyramid also made the cut.

The vast majority of the Guyana-based players has progressed through the GFF’s Academy Training Centre (ATC) programme, a first-of-its-kind football development initiative in the Caribbean region, which provides elite, structured and age-appropriate coaching for talented girls and boys across the GFF’s nine regional associations.

For example, Devon Padmore, Jerome Harrigan, Sealon Sue, Darron Niles, Kevin Mullin, Brandon Solomon and Solomon Austin have performed consistently well throughout the ATC age groups, as well as standing out in GFF youth competitions, such as the U-15 and U-17 tournaments, which have been made possible by financial support from the Pele Alumni and NAMILCO.

Santos FC goalkeeper Ronaldo Blair has trained regularly with the Guyana senior men’s squad, while newcomer Yohance Douglas, an attacking midfielder from Marist College in New York state, caught the eye during diaspora trials and is currently plying his trade as a freshman at the highest level of college soccer (NCAA Division I) in the United States.

The Guyana-based contingent of the U-20 preliminary squad has been engaged in intense, structured preparations for the qualifiers since September, most recently beating GFF Elite League teams Milerock FC and GDF in friendly matches, with a final warm-up game against a select national U-23 men’s side on Thursday, October 28.

The final squad departs Guyana for the Dominican Republic on Wednesday, November 3.

“The preparation has gone pretty well since the start,” Dover said.

“In the early weeks, we focused on fitness, an area that a strong emphasis always needed to be placed on. In the following weeks, the focus shifted to technical passing drills and tactical organisation in defending. During the last two weeks, we dealt with general team organisation and patterns in attack.

“The players are starting to adapt well to the teachings, as was demonstrated in the two friendly games played on Sunday and Tuesday,” he added.

“The technical staff’s focus for these two games was primarily on how the team play as a unit rather than the final results. However, a win is a win in any part of the world, and we were happy for the wins because they will lend towards boosting morale.”

In its last game in Group D, the squad will be hoping to exact revenge on regional rivals Nicaragua, following a nail-biting 1-0 defeat to the Central American side in the last edition of qualifiers for the 2020 competition.

That narrow loss cost Guyana a place in the final tournament, despite commanding victories against Montserrat, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and the US Virgin Islands.

The 2020 tournament was eventually cancelled due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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