By Santokie Nagulendran
Last week the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) announced the eagerly anticipated 30-man squad for the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers against St Vincent and the Grenadines next month. In previous weeks there have been numerous names rumoured to be joining up, with Troy Deeney, the top scorer in England’s second-tier division this season, and Nicky Maynard of Cardiff City FC, having both apparently confirmed interest in representing Guyana to media publications in the Caribbean.
However, upon further investigation, it appears as if neither player made such statements: it is not believed that either player even has the Guyanese roots required to be eligible to join the team. However, the 30-man squad which was eventually announced by the GFF did throw up some interesting names: mainly the inclusion of Sam Cox and Marcel Barrington. 24-year old Sam Cox is a central midfielder who previously played for Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur’s Under-18 team; he qualifies for Guyana via his Mother.
Speaking of his call-up, Cox said, “After gaining promotion to the National League and winning the Player of the Season award with my club Boreham Wood, to my delight I was called up to confirm I would be part of the Guyana squad to face SVG. I’m honoured and very much looking forward to making a huge impact for the team. It’s always been a dream of mine to play on the International stage and to represent my roots, I’m looking forward to making my family proud.”
Cox currently plays for Boreham Wood, a club in England, achieving promotion with a side that also includes Ricky Shakes, the man who scored Guyana’s most important goal on 11/11/2011 against Trinidad and Tobago. Shakes and Cox’s understanding of playing club football together will no doubt be an asset for the Golden Jaguars as the side looks to gel as a team in the two weeks before the all-important World Cup qualifiers. Shakes recall to the National side after a three year absence is a welcome addition that should add depth to a side already prominent in the attacking department.
Marcel Barrington, an exciting 19-year old left-winger for Premier League side Leicester City, has also been selected in the 30-man squad. Barrington is seen as a player with a fantastic future ahead of him, having moved from fellow Premier League side Stoke City FC to join Leicester, he was part of the Leicester City development squad which secured an impressive top-six finish in the 2013/14 Under-21 Premier League season. Whilst he will be primarily be seen as a player for the Olympic qualifiers which start in late June, his talent could see him making the final cut of the senior squad for the World Cup qualifiers next month.
The final UK-based new addition is goal-keeper Matthew Allick, who will provide cover for a position Guyana is notably weak in, with FIFA rules requiring three goal-keepers must be included in every squad, and he will be in the squad alongside Akel Clarke and Derrick Carter. With 2016 Olympic qualifiers beginning in late June and featuring players aged under-23, Guyana has called up Kadell Daniel to that training squad, a talented young winger who is currently contracted to Charlton Athletic, Daniel is coming from the same English club Leon Cort was playing for when he joined the Golden Jaguars in 2011. With so much talent committing to join Guyana at both Senior and Under-23 level, the future looks bright for Men’s football in the country.
The Golden Jaguar side of 2015 has the potential to go even further than the famed 2012 class that reached the semi-finals of CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers, with Neil Danns and Matthew Briggs providing the experience of playing at the top-level which Leon and Carl Cort brought to the team in 2011/2012. The squad this year is also notably younger; the core of the side could represent Guyana for the next ten years, so there is a capacity for development that puts the National Team in a good position going forward. Local players such as Daniel Wilson, Colin Nelson and Trayon Bobb are now more experienced than they were in 2012 whilst still remaining relatively young, whilst other young talent such as Sheldon Holder and Pernell Schultz have adapted well to International football so far. This is a squad which has significant depth to it and on paper is one of the strongest sides in the Caribbean.
If the team defeat SVG next month, they will need to play another knockout tie in early September, where they could potentially face regional powerhouses Jamaica or Haiti, and this will be a real test for the side. Rumoured names to potentially join the side in the future include Calum Harriot of Charlton Athletic and Ryan Fredericks of Tottenham Hotspur. As the Golden Jaguars roar on, we could see more young, talented faces sign up to help the cause in the future.
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