To play with all their heart – Head Coach
By Franklin Wilson in Houston Texas compliments of Fazia’s Collection, Crown Mining Supply, Anglin Enterprises USA, Stag Beer, Germans Restaurant, Queensway Security Service
Guyana’s Lady Jags can further cement their name in the annals of the nation’s history if they get past Trinidad and Tobago’s Soca Princess today in their final Group B match of the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championships at the BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston, Texas from 18:00hrs (20:00hrs Guyana time).
With the Canadians already into the semis with a perfect record of two wins from as many matches, Guyana (3 points) go into this encounter ahead of T&T as the second placed team in the four team group on a better goal difference having lost 5-0 to Canada whilst the Trini side were 6-0 losers.
Guatemala is yet off the mark points wise and it is unlikely they will with the Canadians being their last game tonight. The semifinals will be contested on Friday and the final on Sunday also at the BBVA Compass Stadium.
At the post match press conference after the historic triumph on Sunday, Lady Jags goalkeeper Chante Sandiford who had another excellent game between the uprights said that it was a great team effort defensively
Head Coach Mark Rodrigues noted that the girls were a confident bunch, making use of the opportunities when they were presented. He recalled that the team was in a similar position against Jamaica in Trinidad and Tobago last November and true to form the girls delivered when it mattered.
“We have advanced the history and legacy of the Lady Jags in Guyana, regardless of what happens on Tuesday (today) we’re already winners. But Tuesday we’re going to be coming out with a different game plan and definitely going to play with all our heart.”
After a goalless first half on Sunday, Guyana found themselves trailing Guatemala from the 54th minute but strategic subs added the more energy to the Lady Jags’ fight as substitute Mariam El-Masri (46th minute) neutralized the score in the 71st minute before the history making goal came off the boot of Alison Heydorn in the 76th minute.
Rodrigues again re-iterated that the 90 minutes of practice they were afforded against Canada prepared them for the Guatemala challenge and possibly Trinidad, underscoring that when they need to do it, “We can do it”.
The win he said was huge for Guyana with the Lady Jags advancing their programme and legacy.
He noted that some of the players were tired during the Guatemala battle and the priority leading up to today’s all important clash would’ve been to ensure that the players recover as quickly as possible to bring them back as closely as possible to whatever their 100% of fitness would be.
Sandiford commented on the huge save she made with less than 10 minutes remaining in the match: “That was like unreal, you know everybody was just anxious at that point. I made the first save and everybody under my team was like busting to get to the post and save it and we did. It just shows our team’s mentality and effort and the heart, we had to keep the lead. I was so proud of us in that moment.”
She noted that there was a bit of a break down but they were able to pick each other up back in that moment to ensure the victory.
Rodrigues expressed his pleasure that Guyana were now sending a message of hope to other
Caribbean nations with regards to female football and what can be achieved, noting that Trinidad and Jamaica have also been flying that flag.
Sandiford emphasized that the Lady Jags have the belief that they can do anything going into every game and even practice.
“The feeling is that we can do anything, it’s never like we’re going to try this and hopefully this happens. We feel like we’re in the driver’s seat, we fell like everything that happens, we control. So we believe that we are going to win, we believe that we have the skill, we believe that we have the heart and the technique and everything that we need to win the game. It’s just about putting it all into action.”
She further noted that if they did that then they are confident they will get the results that they need.
That level of commitment will be on display again today as Trinidad stand in their way. The last time the two nations met at this level in 2010, T&T won 4-1 but this time around, the Soca ladies will be facing a much more matured and confident Guyana team that will go all out for another historic win.
The Golden Jaguars k’oed the Soca Warriors (male team) on November 11, 2011 on their way to the third stage of World Cup qualifying, the first time ever. The Lady Jags will be seeking to also reach even further, a final four place among the best teams in CONCACAF. Good Luck Lady Jags!
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