By Franklin Wilson in Houston Texas compliments of Fazia’s Collection, Crown Mining Supply, Anglin Enterprises USA, Stag Beer, Germans Restaurant, Queensway Security Service
Their quest to become the first team from Guyana to qualify for an Olympic Finals will begin today when this nations ‘Lady Jags’, our flagship female team lock horns with Canada in the feature match at the BBVA Campus in Houston, Texas in Group B of the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship.
Despite being ranked 89th in the world as compared to Canada’s 11th place, Head Coach of the Lady Jags, Mark Rodrigues says that they have been working in their training sessions to counter what the Canadians will bring to the park.
One of the areas worked on was raising the intensity level of each player which then translates to the overall intensity level of the group as a collective.
“We’ve established to them, areas of the field that we are looking to concentrate on and establishing specific responsibilities. One of the key focuses of the entire camp especially in the last few days was getting the players to refocus on accepting their own roles and responsibilities.
Trusting what we call their sister, those to the left or right; behind and in front of them and recognizing when their sister needs help, stepping in making sure that they work together as a unit within the game plan that we are setting for Canada.”
Commenting on what would be the style of play, Rodrigues without hesitation said it would be defensive.
“We are forced to do that because we are playing against professional players that do this for a living all year long. The grim reality of it is, this is their job. We’re just coming together and hoping to have some semblance of organizational skills and a level of fitness to compete.”
Rodrigues who has been at the helm of the Lady Jaguars since they started in January 2009 and launched in June of the same year, further stated that the Technical Staff has devised a specific game plane for each of Guyana’s three opponents in this group, the others being
Guatemala and Trinidad and Tobago.
“Depending what the result is in the Canadian game, it will dictate what happens going forward. We go into every game to win, it’s a football match, you never know what will happen but the reality of it is that we know what we are up against and at this point we are just hoping that we can apply to the best of our ability, our specific game plan.”
And Guyana’s Captain Ashlee Rodrigues in her comments at the press briefing said that the girls are excited at the task at hand: “We’re not as well-known but we have a great group of girls here, a lot of heart, a lot of excitement and just a strong belief that when we go out there we can take on any challenge so for Canada, Guatemala, Trinidad and beyond, we are just ready. The great part about our group is that no matter what we are presented with we have that strong belief that together we going to make stuff happen out there.”
Rodrigues noted that some of the girls from 2010 are not here but they have grown as
a programme and a team noting that the challenges encountered then, they have a little bit of now but they are a much stronger group.
She noted that in 2010 they had a goalkeeper with little experience but now they have three phenomenal goalkeepers. “Little things like that have made a difference in our game, in our confidence, in our belief in each other. We’ve moved on, we’ve grown, we’ve gotten better and strengthened ourselves individually and henceforth as a team so things are much better this time around for us and we are excited about that.”
Meanwhile, Canada’s Head Coach Mark Herdman speaking with the media last evening said that they have everything to lose since a win for any of the nations against them would be huge for them.
“The main thing for us is just winning the group and getting through to the most critical game which is game four and then we’re on to the final.”
Captain Christine Smith said that as a team they are in a great space right now, they have spent a long time together and they have a lot of new faces in the team. She noted their eagerness for the games to begin.
Coach Herdman noted that Guyana has a lot of players from Canada who would find pleasure in knocking over Smith and believes the Lady Jags would be well organized from what he can see.
“They will be probably a 4-5-1 and you’re going to have to break that down and just get caught on set pieces and counter attacks. They may come out and play as well and we encourage that because that’s the type of game everyone wants to see but who knows. At the end of the day we are expecting a similar style.”
He noted that they do impose themselves on teams to force a certain way of playing and that is what they intend to do. The team has been in transition since 2012 Herdman informed and have been aligning all their elite development to the national team and they are now starting to see the fruits of that.
Sinclair, a veteran of 230 national caps can go past USA’s Mia Hamm (275 caps) on the all-time leading goal scorer list; the two are tied on 158 goals each. The all-time leader is Abby Wambach (USA) with 184 from 255 caps.
Today’s opening Group B match features Trinidad and Tobago, the other CFU team in the competition taking on Guatemala from 18:00hrs here which is 20:00hrs Guyana time.
Group A matches kicked off the championship last evening at the Toyota Stadium where Puerto Rico faced Mexico and the USA played Costa Rica.
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