The flagship team of the Guyana Football Federation (GFF), the senior male team also known as the ‘Golden Jaguars’ will be back in competitive action from next Thursday when this nation plays its first match of the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League (CNL) qualifying stage against Barbados at the Leonora National Track and Field Centre, West Coast Demerara from 19:00hrs.
President of the GFF in an invited comment shared his views on the importance of this new centralised men’s national team competition representing a new era of national team football for CONCACAF Member Associations.
”The Nations League will first and foremost allow us to measure our flagship team, ‘The Golden Jaguars’ against quality regional opponents. We are determined to qualify for the CONCACAF Gold Cup and the Executive Committee has made the necessary adjustments and investment to improve our chances.
Qualifying for the Gold Cup is tied to a bigger strategy and that is; to lift the profile of the Team and the Country, to improve the visibility of the Brand (Golden Jaguars), to improve our team Management systems, to attract higher quality friendly games and to establish a stronger position for sponsorship negotiation, both locally and internationally. All of this will generate National confidence and momentum for the 2026 campaign.”
The team would not have been active on FIFA dates in the past due to a number of challenges which the GFF has been working on to overcome to the extent that the core of the National U-20 and 23 players just returned from a two week Train and Play Camp in Brazil, the first time that such an initiative has been undertaken in Guyana’s football history. New Head Coach Michael Johnson was in charge in Brazil.
Also historical in Brazil was the composition of a professional Technical Staff of over one dozen qualified personnel which will be the standard of the federation going forward, Forde noted.
”We now have in place a very talented and motivated coaching staff and we are putting together a very strong team that can compete pound for pound against any regional team. International Football is very challenging financially but we always find a way to keep moving forward.”
The names of the players that would be donning national colours for the Barbados match next Thursday would be released shortly and Forde has indicated that the team would have a balanced mix of local and international players.
The federation head also shared on systems the federation would be putting in place to keep the players motivated on and off the field in this long journey that leads up to FIFA World Cup qualification in 2026 and the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2019.
”The local players are playing consistently in the Elite League. The GFF provides and covers all cost to and from the Elite League game venues. Each player is paid a match fee of $3,500 per game and at the end of each game the player and Coaching staff is provided with a meal. This is the first time in Guyana’s football history that this is being done. The Elite clubs are soon to receive a large stock of professional training material and we have just appointed a Brazilian specialist Coach to work with the Elite League Clubs to improve the quality of coaching. We have also increased the encampment per diem from US$35 per day to US$50 per day. I believe they have every reason to be motivated and loyal to the Nation. I believe they have more than enough.”
The GFF and Guyana’s quest to attain the highest possible heights in this beautiful sport cannot be achieved alone but would need the tangible support of all the relevant stakeholders which include the government, corporate Guyana and the fans.
Forde offered his tale on this important component: “While we need every bit of support that is available, I am placing my faith in the product (the team) to generate value and subsequent interest. We are making difficult upfront investments to achieve this but I am confident that by registering strong performances, we will be able to secure a network of partnership to support the Campaign.”
Meanwhile, Following all 68 matches of the CONCACAF Nations League qualifying phase, to be played in September, October, and November 2018, and March 2019, the total points for each team will be compiled into an aggregate table, ranking the participating teams from 1-34 based on their on-field results.
The final standings of the qualifying phase will determine how teams are placed into Leagues A, B and C for the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League Group Phase, set to kick off in September 2019.
Additionally, the top ten ranked countries of the Nations League qualifying final table will qualify automatically into the expanded edition of the 2019 Gold Cup, joining the six previously qualified teams that participated in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Hexagonal, for a total of 16 participating Gold Cup nations.
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