Story Calvin Chapman; Photos by Zaheer Mohamed
It was déjà vu for the Golden Jaguars, Guyana’s national men’s team when they drew 2-2 with Barbados Tridents in their second consecutive meeting; this instance being their opening game of the Concacaf Nations’ League (CNL) campaign which was played at the National Track and Field Center (NTFC) at Leonora, last night.
After Guyana went ahead through the fleet-footed Trayon Bobb in the 46th minute, Barbados’ Hallam Hope banged in two goals in eight minutes to give the visitors an unlikely lead before Bury FC’s Neil Danns scored the equaliser for Guyana in the 78th minute.
Newly appointed Manager of the team, Michael Johnson, explained the result as being, “A good point for Guyana but it feels like a loss,” and rightfully so. During the first half of the game played in ideal conditions, hundreds of loyal supporters of the Golden Jaguars witnessed three tremendous opportunities being squandered by the home team, and if one of those splendid opportunities had been finished, the Jaguars would’ve walked away with three points in their first CNL game.
In the 22nd minute, Guyana’s center forward Andrew Murray met a header from the energetic Bobb who did well to evade Barbados’ Ramar Miller on the touchline, but the powerful header was directed straight into the palms of Keasel Broome Jr.; Barbados’ shot stopper.
One minute later, Sheldon Holder had a similar opportunity after being played through and he controlled the pass well but failed to hit the target with an attempted cheeky chip over the advancing Broome Jr.
The final big miss for Guyana in the first half came five minutes before that period of play when an acrobatic cross into the box by Bobb saw right winger Holder controlling the ball before setting it up for Daniel Wilson who failed to hit the target; the Western Tigers midfielder skied the ball over the net from close range.
At the start of the second half, Bobb converted a well timed through ball from Holder to ease nerves following horrible finishing in the first half but that one-goal lead was short-lived, lasting only nine minutes.
A poor back pass coupled with miscommunication in the 65th minute then allowed Carlisle United’s (10th in England’s League Two) Hallam Hope a clear opportunity to fire past Guyana’s cutodian, Kai McKenzie-Lyle who was off his line, and the professional ‘baller’ made no mistake, hammering in a powerful low shot to the right of McKenzie from about 20 yards out.
Hope’s second goal was a beauty in the 73rd minute, a diving header from close range that met a powerful cross which was whipped in from the left side by his skipper, Rashad Jules; McKenzie-Lyle stood no chance of stopping that bullet-header.
At this period, the fans were in disbelief because the score line did not reflect the way the game was playing since the Jaguars were dominating the Tridents in each aspect of play. With the panic alarm on the brink of being rung, Neil Danns drove home, hard and low from about 23 yards out, beating Broome Jr. with the ball slotting into the bottom right corner of the goal.
However, Guyana could not prevent history from repeating itself as the game ended 2-2 which was the case when these two teams last met at the Barbados National Stadium in 2015.
During the post match brief, Barbados’ Head Coach, Ahmed Mohamed, said that he was disheartened with the result. Although the Jaguars clearly had the best of opportunities, Coach Ahmed noted that his team was the better of the two and that the pitch, which been used to host Concacaf matches in the past two years, was not ideal for playing.
The Golden Jaguars next match of the CNL is an away fixture against Turks and Caicos Islands on October 10th, next.
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