It wasn’t a busy year in 2017 for the Golden Jaguars, Guyana’s senior men football team, having played only a meagre three matches on the International scene, all being friendly encounters. This was due to the fact that the team was unsuccessful in their bid to qualify for the Caribbean Cup, after losing to Jamaica and Suriname in the third round of qualifications.
Last year can be labeled as a disappointing year as well after the national side didn’t win any of those matches, losing two and drawing one. In the first friendly, played away at Grenada in the Kirani James National Stadium, the Jaguars were needled 1-0 thanks to a 90th minute strike from Grenada’s Saydrel Lewis on Saturday October, 7th. Guyana’s starting eleven in that friendly featured predominantly overseas based players, the starters included Andrew Durant in goal, Jake Newton, Adrian Butters, Terrence Vancooten, Walter Moore, Samuel Peter Cox, Brandon Beresford, Christopher Bourne, Shaquille Agard, Neil Danns and Emery Welshman.
In the second friendly international of the year, Guyana’s senior national men’s football team, played to a disappointing 1-1 draw against Trinidad and Tobago on November 14th last, after failing to protect their lead in the away fixture at the Ato Bolton stadium.
The Jaguars took the lead early in the first half, before the T&T’s attacking threat allowed them to equalise in the second half of the match. Sheldon Holder, who outfits for T&T pro-league Morvant Caledonia during the regular season, fired the Jaguars ahead with a goal in the 19th minute, as they head into the half-time break with the advantage. But, 15 minutes after the break, Trinidad and Tobago equalised through Shahdon Winchester.
The final and most exciting friendly for the Jaguars last year was the away fixture against Indonesia, another match that local side scored first but failed to protect their lead. It was the first instance that these two sides were meeting and the Golden Jaguars managed to score first in their second consecutive international friendly of the month, in the historic match in Asia, but couldn’t hold on to the lead as the host didn’t just equalised but completed a superb fight back in front the thousands of home fans that packed the Patriot Stadium in the city of Bekasi.
Agard who plays the left attacking position and outfits for Durham United FC, a league one team in Canada, broke the deadlock early in the ninth minute of the match with a calm finish. He showed great balance and strength to shrug off a challenge from a defender within the box before gently slotting home a right-footed shot from the left side of the box to the bottom right of goal.
Indonesia equalized during the first half of the game which began at 07:30hrs local time after Ilija Spasojevic converted a penalty that was awarded to the hosts in the 37th minute of the game with a right-footed strike left of the goal.
As both teams pressed for the winner as the match elapsed into the second half, Spasojevic completed a brace after firing home from close range in the 75th minute. The effort winded the Guyanese and the Asians held on during the remaining 15 minutes of normal time to record success in the friendly.
During an interview with Kaieteur Sport in December, president of the Guyana Football Federation (GFF), Wayne Forde, had stated that the purpose of the international friendlies in 2017 was to look at various coaching methodologies while experimenting with the squad composition and team formations.
Meanwhile, Technical Director of the GFF, Ian Greenwood, reiterated the fact that the future of the Guyana’s senior men football team is dependent on the development of locally based players and more importantly the youth players.
Being cognizant of this fact, the GFF executive committee (Exco) that had made it one of their mandates to develop a solid youth programme during pre-election and are making strides to realize this dream.
The current GFF exco had promised if elected to office that they would’ve overseen the running off of youth leagues in four age groups in the under-13, under-15, under-17 and under-20 age groups. And, at the end of the 2017, two years after the current exco were elected to office, the organizing of successful under-17 and under-15 national leagues have been realized with the sponsors of each of those leagues committing to five-year contracts.
In addition, the GFF boss, Forde, noted that this year will see the launching of the critical under-13 and under-20 national leagues. Currently, the sponsor of the under-17 league is the National Milling Company (NAMILCO), while the Pele Football Club Alumni sponsors the under-15 league. However, Forde didn’t disclose the sponsors of the under-20 and under-13 leagues since negotiations are still undergoing.
Technical Director of the GFF, Ian Greenwood, reiterated the importance of solid youth development programmes and noted with Kaieteur Sport his intention of working with the under-13 squad to have them be the best players Guyana has ever seen. “The current u-13 team put together this year (2017) will be the best when they reach the senior level, not only because of the work we will put in with them but we intend to keep the squad together,” Greenwood shared.
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