GFF ‘aligned’ with President Ali’s vision for 2026 FIFA World Cup qualification


By Akeem Greene

Currently, there are three direct slots and two inter-confederation play-off slots available to the members of the Confederation of North, Central American, and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) for qualifying for the 2026 FIFA World Cup to be held in Canada, Mexico, and the United States of America.

Head of State Dr. Irfaan Ali and President of the Guyana Football Federation (GFF), Wayne Forde, firmly believe Guyana can be one of the national teams to book a spot in the expanded World Cup.

The CONCACAF region has six direct slots and two inter-confederation play-off slots. However, only three direct slots for this World Cup are available because three host nations have direct qualifications.

The furthest Guyana has gone to qualifying was the penultimate round when they topped a group containing Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, and Bermuda to reach the third round of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

They finished in the cellar spot in the third round, behind Mexico, Costa Rica, and El Salvador, with one point from their six matches under current Head Coach Jamaal Shabazz.

“President Ali and I are well aligned in our ambition, as bold as it may appear, that we can punch a ticket in 2026. It may appear outside of our reach to some, but I do not believe so. But we are not going to do it by dreaming; we got to get to work,” Forde stated as the GFF gears for upcoming World Cup qualifiers in June.

Guyana has been drawn in Group D of the Concacaf Qualifiers for the 2026 FIFA World Cup alongside Panama, Nicaragua, Montserrat, and Belize.

Golden Jaguars will open their campaign in the second round away to regional heavyweight Panama on June 6.

Noting that the ongoing KFC Elite League, where the top local players will be exposed to 18 league matches, will be critical for match readiness, the Federation has international friendlies on the agenda, and Forde noted that they must improve scouting given the “need for high-quality players in key positions.”

“This is not impossible; this is doable, but we also have to be willing to commit serious resources,” Forde emphasised.

President Dr. Irfaan Ali (left) and President of the Guyana Football Federation Wayne Forde

In January, President Ali hosted the members of the Golden Jaguars squad, the technical staff, and GFF executives for breakfast at State House.

The Head of State said the government wants to help develop the sport in Guyana and promised to work with the national players to enhance their abilities.

He highlighted support for training camps and international friendlies and pledged to make other resources available as the country embarks on qualifying for the FIFA World Cup for the first time in 2026.

Ali revealed he has been engaged in talks to bring national teams such as Ghana to Guyana to help prepare the Golden Jaguars further.

“This is an opportunity we may never get again because of how it is structured and done in our region; this is yours to spoil. We can only do it together if all of us are committed to doing it, we have to bring an entire country behind us [and] I want all of Guyana to be behind this mission,” the Guyanese Head of State expressed as he challenged the players to be focused and committed on the significance of the momentous task.

More so, the GFF foresees a concerted effort to push for a World Cup spot as one that will bring long-term benefits to Guyana’s football landscape.

“If this is not the time we can make it, think about the infrastructure we will build in pursuit of qualifying in terms of staffing, technology, players, and facilities,” Forde rationalised.

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