By Calvin Chapman
Locally based player, Tiandi Smith made her first international start while first choice goalkeeper, Natalie Nedd who had a shaky opening game against Bermuda, was replaced by Taylor White in goal in Guyana’s second CONCACAF Caribbean women’s qualifiers Group E match against Suriname last night.
At the National Track and Field Center (NTFC) at Leonora, on the West Coast of Demerara, the two CARICOM nations were met by light drizzle that quickly morphed into heavy downpour in the initial minutes of the match which Suriname had dominated.
However, the visitors didn’t capitalize on their early spell of possession that were snuffed out by a nervous looking Sasha James, who played a few risky back passes to the solid looking White, along with her company of defence inclusive of captain Nikita Persuad; who all oozed confidence. Before half-time, Sasha James had found herself replaced by Miriam El-Masri, Guyana’s leading goal scorer.
Besides the first group game on Wednesday, the last time Guyana’s senior female football team, the ‘Lady Jags’ played a home fixture was in 2010 and after drawing their first game against Bermuda after trailing twice on Wednesday, the Guyanese were eager to win. And, they did as five Guyanese etched their names on the score sheet.
Early in the game, after soaking up the surprising pressure from Suriname, Guyana’s centre midfielder Brittany Persaud picked up a loose ball inside her half, raised her head, and played a pinpoint lobbed through pass to Desa Brianne, who occupied the right forward position, but she was unable to successfully lob over Suriname’s advancing number one, Benjamine Nathalie.
Besides that lone, dangerously close attacking threat, Suriname continued to pressure the Jags, mainly thro
ugh impressive footwork from their attacking midfielder Sabrina Rigters, who had weaved circles around the Guyanese almost every time she got the ball during the first half. And, in the 38th minute, Rigters added the dazzle of a fine finish; a low driven shot from 22 yards out on the left after dribbling past 5 defenders to deservedly place the Dutchwomen ahead at 1-0.
As the Jags had did against the Bermudans in their opening game, they responded right after falling behind, this time through Persaud that curled a free-kick over the wall from the left side of the field and into the back of the net from about 20-yards in the 40th minute to register her first of two goals.
The opening goal was a bit of a kick in the behind for the home side that had been pegged to win the group following their first match and Ghilene Joseph ensured the Jags finished the first half leading 2-1 by smashing home a left-footed volley, following two consecutive corner set pieces.
On resumption of the game, the Lady Jags doubling their lead seemed imminent as the Surinamese feebly negotiated plays in their final third.
In the 58thminute, Brianne Desa demonstrated great sprint speed to be first to a through ball in the box before sending a low cross for Calaigh Copland to head home, which took the score to 3-1.
Suriname proved weak with set pieces and Sydney Cummings along with Persaud scored in the 65th and 67th minutes respectively, both following corners before Tiandi Smith, Guyana’s female footballer of the year, netted her first international goal of her career in the 88thminute to lock the score at 6-1. A total of four goals were conceded by Suriname from set pieces.
The Guyanese, who were wary of Bermuda sneaking through to the next round of qualification on goal difference, bombarded the Dutchwomen number one, Benjamine, who pulled out quite a few stops that added some respite to the score line that had already been mauled by the Lady Jaguars.
The final score would’ve easily been 7 or 8-1 if it wasn’t for the good efforts by the visiting goalkeeper coupled with wayward finishing by the women in green.
Meanwhile, in the opening fixture Bermuda’s Akeyla Furbert, Teyah Lindo, who now has three goals from two games, and Deshae Darrel scored once each to better Barbados’ two goal effort that saw Felicia Jarvis and Caitlyn Padmore scoring one goal apiece.
Heading into tomorrow’s final round of play, the ‘Lady Jags’ are leading the group with four points, ahead of Bermuda with a better goal difference of five compared to their one. While Barbados have three points and Suriname are yet to register a point.
Suriname will oppose Bermuda in the first match at 17:00hrs, while the women from the land of the flying fish, Barbados, will play the dangerous Lady Jaguars.
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