Lady Jags upbeat and passionate ahead of Thursday’s clash with Canada
By Franklin Wilson in New York compliments of: Fazia’s Collection, Crown Mining Supply, Anglin Enterprises USA, Stag Beer, Germans Restaurant, Queensway Security Service
They defeated the mighty Reggae Girls in Trinidad and Tobago last November 2-1 to book the final CFU spot to the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying competition and they are now mere hours away from living another dream of competing at the pinnacle of the sport in CONCACAF.
The head to head meeting with the Jamaica side saw the Lady Jags; the lesser experienced and decorated of the two, cutting down the girls from Reggae Town. What they achieved then can be replicated now but this will be a different hurdle to climb with the best teams from CONCACAF now vying for a place to represent the Confederation at the Summer Olympic Games in Rio.
The Guyana team will feature a number of players who competed at the 2010 CONCACAF Qualifying in Mexico but this time around they are much more matured and ready for the challenge of representing their nation.
A training camp in Canada in early January was used by Head Coach Mark Rodrigues and GFF Technical Director Claude Bolton to assess the players before the final selection was made weeks later.
The side Rodrigues reported from their Texas base was involved in a practice match on Sunday and were recovering well yesterday, noting that based on what was displayed, the players were far behind the level that was displayed in Trinidad and Tobago when the Lady Jags qualified for this stage.
He cited that there is a lot of work to be done leading up to Thursday’s opening match but despite, the players are very upbeat and passionate.
“Their fitness levels are better but the long layoff for most of them that have not played is very evident. The focus right now is trying to get them back to a comfortable level tactically to give us an opportunity to compete in some way. We are conscious that we are playing against some of the best players in the world, most of them playing professionally all year round at the highest level against other world class players. We will rely heavily on our tactical game plan combined with our pride, passion and support vocally and physically of each other on the field to help us be competitive.”
Canada and Trinidad and Tobago have opted to mix seasoned players with some youths for their respective rosters and have been working together as a unit for some time. Canada will be aiming to qualify for their third straight Olympic Games having ended with bronze in London four years ago. The #11 ranked team in the world will have to first get past the Guyanese who are ranked 89th in the world, Trinidad and Tobago who are at # 48 and Guatemala the team in Group B at # 76 in the world.
Group A consists of the USA the #1 team in the world, Mexico (#26), Costa Rica (#34) and Puerto Rico at # 108. Group A matches kick off tomorrow with the top two from each group advancing to the semifinals but only the two finalists will qualify for the Olympics.
Guyana’s Final 20-Player Roster:
GK (3) – Derienne Busby (University of Evansville/USA); Ruth George (Lil Diva’s FC/GUY); Chante Sandiford (UMF Selfoss/ISL);
DF (8) – Briana DeSouza (Durham United FC/CAN); Kayla DeSouza (Durham United FC/CAN); Julia Gonsalves (University of Toronto/CAN); Kailey Leila (Unattached); Kelly Pelz-Butler (Unattached);Lea h-Marie Ramalho (Toronto Rangers SC/CAN); Justine Rodrigues (Unattached); Bria Williams (Vaughan SC/CAN);
MF (7) – Dana Marie Bally (York University /CAN); Mariam El-Masri (GS United/CAN); Olivia Gonsalves (University of Toronto/CAN); Alison Heydorn (Ann Arbor United SC/USA); Brittany Persaud (Unattached); Ashley Rodrigues (Tampa Bay Hellenic/USA); Ashlee Savona (Unattached);
FW (2) – Otesha Charles (Unattached); Calaigh Copland (Woodbridge Strikers SC/CAN);
Wednesday, February 10 – Toyota Stadium 6 pm (5 pm) Puerto Rico vs. Mexico 8:30pm (7:30pm) USA vs. Costa Rica
Thursday, February 11 – BBVA Compass Stadium 6 pm (5 pm) Guatemala vs. Trinidad & Tobago 8:30pm (7:30pm) Canada vs. Guyana
Saturday, February 13 – Toyota Stadium 1:30pm (12:30pm) Costa Rica vs. Puerto Rico 4 pm (3 pm) Mexico vs. USA
Sunday, February 14 – BBVA Compass Stadium 1:30pm (12:30pm) Guyana vs. Guatemala 4 pm (3 pm) Trinidad & Tobago vs. Canada
Monday, February 15 – Toyota Stadium 6 pm (5 pm) Mexico vs. Costa Rica 8:30pm (7:30pm) USA vs. Puerto Rico
Tuesday, February 16 – BBVA Compass Stadium 6 pm (5 pm) Trinidad & Tobago vs. Guyana 8:30pm (7:30pm) Canada vs. Guatemala
Friday, February 19 – BBVA Compass Stadium 5:30pm (4:30pm) 1B vs. 2A 8:30pm (7:30pm) 1A vs. 2B
Sunday, February 21 – BBVA Compass Stadium 5 pm (4 pm) Winner SF1 vs. Winner SF2
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