Biggest achievement in Guyana’s football history
By Franklin Wilson
The game was not their best by any stretch of the imagination but the determination and cohesiveness of the team was admirable.
Captain Ashley Rodrigues drew Guyana level with the Cubans from the penalty spot in the 38th minute after Brittany Persaud was brought down in the box. Cuba had taken the lead 3 minutes earlier, Yezena Gallardo Martinez slotting the ball home after catching the ‘Lady Jags’ off focus.
Up to this point the game was even with both sides seeking to gain full out advantage. The young Cuban side were passing the ball around but never looked as threatening as the home side.
The uses of the National Stadium through the intervention of Minister of Culture Youth and sport Dr. Frank Anthony along with Minister of Public Works Robeson Benn was indeed a Blessing for the team according to Technical Director Mark Rodrigues since it allowed his charges to execute their game plan brilliantly.
The game was initially set for the GCC Ground Bourda but heavy early morning showers left the ground waterlogged. The GFF were even contemplating using the Mackenzie Sports Club Ground but decided to seek Dr. Anthony’s intervention for the Stadium and received the thumbs up much to the delight of the Lady Jags, the rest is now history.
The go ahead goal for the Guyanese was plastered into the network with a powerful header from Brittany Persaud (44th minute) who made no mistake after receiving a wonderfully squared ball from the right side of the southern goal from Alison Heydorn. Ashley Savona made the enterprising run down the flank before back healing the ball to Heydorn after dribbling two defenders.
The Jags were clinical with their execution from their set pieces and looked well heading the ball.
As the game progressed the home team grew in confidence and it was always just a matter of time before the goals were netted. Goal number three was scored 3 minutes into the second half when Justine Rodrigues headed past the Cuban goalkeeper at the near post from a corner.
A number of chances were created but the Cubans were able to hold off the rampaging ‘Lady Jags’.
Asked to comment on the result, Captain Ashley Rodrigues who has taken her goal tally to 4, one behind leading scorer Alison Heydorn, said the feeling is just indescribable.
“You can see the joy on the girls faces, it’s just amazing feat and accomplishment for us. We could not have done it without banding together as one, the fans, our coaches, the support of our family and friends back home; it’s a combination of everything.”
Rodrigues noted that when the programme started over one year ago, it was a long shot to see this kind of accomplishment but now they are achieving so much success, they will continue to push and build. “We got to get bigger and better, higher competition in terms of what we will face at the Gold Cup is what we need, we got to push ourselves.”
Technical Director Mark Rodrigues, speaking after the history making game said he was really excited noting that all the hard work and sacrifices made by the GFF, Technical staff, players, parents, fans and sponsors have paid great dividends. “This is just the culmination of everything and couldn’t be happier for Guyana.”
The game plan he said was carried out to perfection with a wider field being used for the game. Rodrigues said the aim was to spread, stretch and get in behind the opposition and that is what exactly happened. “You noticed the goals all came from getting out wide, the girls did a great job at that and we are all now happy.”
The next step Rodrigues feels is finding the appropriate time to get the team back together for a camp and to organise some international friendly games. Plans are already in the making for a friendly match on August 2nd in Toronto.
He also disclosed that four new players two from Canada and the USA have been identified along with the four who joined the squad in Guyana last week and they will help to strengthen the squad going forward. “We will continue to keep searching and building as we go forward. This is all about improving the team.”
Rodrigues expressed sincere gratitude to the Minister of Sport and all the others who had a say in allowing the team to play at the National Stadium. “As you can see the National Pride from just granting us permission to use here is unparalleled and the rippling effects are going to be felt for a long time, thanks Minister of Sport, thank you everyone for all your help.”
High levels of self belief backed up by equally hard work are some of the attributes that has propelled the Lady Jags into the history books of Guyana again yet again. By virtue of their 3-1 whipping of Cuba at the National Stadium, Providence on Saturday evening the ‘Lady Jags’ became the first Guyanese team to ever qualify for the Gold Cup.
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