One of the more intriguing and potentially defining player transfers of the current 2015/16 English Premier League season was 2014/15 champions Chelsea selling legendary goal-keeper Petr Cech to London rivals Arsenal.
Chelsea selling Cech is perfect example of how goal-keepers are a bit under-rated in football. If Cech was a forward, mid-fielder or defender it’s highly debatable whether he would have been sold.
Legendary British Manager Brian Clough speaking about his equally famed English goal-keeper Peter Shilton during his Nottingham Forest teams 1977-78 title winning season, aptly described the importance of the goal-keeper.
“With Shilton in goal, it gave everyone more confidence. It spread through the side. The defenders felt safer, and the forwards thought if we could nick a goal, there was more than an even chance that the opposition wouldn’t score at the other end.”
That confidence Clough speaks of has not been present for Golden Jaguars especially the senior men’s team goal-keepers ever since Ronson Williams and Richard Reynolds were the designated shot-stoppers during the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign.
However as the Lady Jaguars prepare for their massive CONCACAF Olympic qualifiers over the next week versus Canada, Guatemala, Trinidad & Tobago and hopefully beyond – the presence of Chante Sandiford means coach Mark Rodrigues will have little to worry about in that position.
“Chante’s experience at the pro level in Iceland is very important to the team’s success”, said Rodrigues.
“Having her play in the last round allowed the staff the opportunity to understand what we needed to address in her style regarding our system of play and her support of the players in front of her.
“Her being at the peak of her game in Texas is or very important, and knowing that we have an equally solid keeper in Simone Busby gives us the depth that is not afforded to too many other teams”, concluded Rodrigues.
During the qualifying round last November in Trinidad & Tobago when the ladies played Puerto Rico, history was created when Chante made her debut. Her father Wendell Sandiford a former Pele FC player was Guyana’s goal-keeper during the national inaugural World Cup qualifying campaign for the 1978 tournament in Argentina.
Thus the duo became the first parent and sibling combination to represent the Golden Jaguars at international level.
Chante started playing football like most players at the young age of five (5) and has been a full-time goal-keeper for 14 years. Her curriculum vitae has seen her represent the United States at Under 15 to 20 level where she played with notable current American players such Sydney Le Roux, Crystal Dunn, Alex Kreiger, Lauren Holiday and Becky Saeraburn.
Her sojourn into the European circuit began with a one-year stint with Russian Club WFC Zorky and the team won the Russian League, which propelled them to feature in the lucrative UEFA Champion’s League for Women’s.
Currently she plies her trade with Iceland club UMF Selfoss and the 26-year old shot stopper reflected on her career journey, which has placed her and father Wendell in a unique position in the echelon of Guyana national team history.
“When Mark (Rodrigues) reached out to dad about playing for the team – I immediately wanted be a part of something I could help grow and it’s amazing to be able to share the feeling with him of playing international football”, stated Sandiford.
She continued: “Playing for the team for the time in Trinidad I was kind of nervous, but I found the team to technically sound and compared to European and American girls. That technical level is where the girls (Lady Jags) certainly match up.
“Overall I found the level of football on display during the CFU qualifiers very competitive and admittedly better than I thought and I’m excited to be part of this”.
With just two teams of the eight teams set to qualify for the Olympics, the players, coaching staff and supporters locally and the Diaspora are well aware of the task at hand. Sandiford is fully focused on playing her role between the uprights to help the Lady Jaguars create history and get to Brazil.
“I’m expecting us to get to the Olympics. That is the focus I have taken as personal motivation going into these games given the opposition we will be facing”.
(Submitted by Guyanese Journalist Colin Benjamin currently in Trinidad)
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