Jun 20, 2021 Sports
2021 Concacaf Gold Cup Prelims Group Stage
By Franklin Wilson
Kaieteur News – As the rebuilding process for the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) Senior Men’s National Team (SMNT) continues to take shape, focus has now been turned to the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup Prelims Group Stage match against Guatemala on the evening of July 3rd, 2021 at the DRV PNK Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
This is the Confederation’s premier competition and it’s Guyana second consecutive appearance at this event having first qualified in 2019, a historic moment for the nation.
The Technical Staff will have their work cut out as they seek to find a formula and strategy to get past the Guatemalans who would have gotten the better of the Guyanese via respective 2-0 and 3-0 margins in international friendly matches in February and November of 2012 and 2010.
However, the Technical minds at the GFF no doubt would have been doing their home work with a view of combating whatever the Guatemalans would throw at them come July 3 as only the winner of this clash would advance further.
A total of twelve (12) nations would be competing in the Preliminary Round (Prelims) from July 2-6 with the top three moving into the Group Stage of the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup which gets cracking on July 10 until July 20.
At the end of the Group Stage, the top two teams from each group will advance to the Quarterfinals. State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona and AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas will play host to the Quarterfinal doubleheaders on July 24 and 25, respectively.
On Friday July 2, Prelims Round One kicks off with Haiti vs Saint Vincent and the Grenadines followed by Bermuda vs Barbados, the night capper between Trinidad and Tobago and Montserrat.
One day later, Guadeloupe will be up against Bahamas, Cuba engage French Guiana with the main attraction between Guyana and Guatemala. A win for the Guyanese would see them advancing to face the winner of the Bahamas vs Guadeloupe match.
Captain Matthew Briggs and his charges would be eager to prove that they have what it takes to etch out a win for Guyana and possible qualification to the group stage against the odds. Training has been maintained at an intense level after the quest to qualify for the next round of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 ended with a single win and three losses from their four matches.
The team is back on the field working hard, the coaching staff is spending a lot of time analyzing the opponent, while working through their game plan.
“We have to always remain positive but at the same time be realistic, Guatemala is among the strongest teams within our confederation and they will be a tough nut to crack. The Golden Jaguars will have to dig much deeper this time around in order to produce a positive results. It is simple – if we can’t out class them, then we have to out fight them.
The team now has 4 games under their belt and would have surely identified all of the weaknesses that requires urgent correction if they are to register a solid performance,” noted GFF President Wayne Forde.
Having agreed that there is no substitute for competitive match practice and already suffered in that regard due to the global pandemic, covid-19 which put paid to numerous attempts by the Federation to have competitive friendly matches, the GFF this past week informed that efforts are being made for the team to leave these shores early as arrangements are being made to have at least two warm-up matches in Florida.
President Wayne Forde noted: “We are planning to travel to Miami early, with the hope of playing two friendly games as part of our preparation for this important encounter. These friendly games are crucial in assessing the players’ level of match fitness and other performance benchmarks.
There is no doubt that Guatemala will be a tough obstacle in advancing to the round of 16, and we should be realistic about our expectations. However, we expect the squad and staff to give everything they have to cause Guatemala some serious problems throughout the match, and we know the support of the fans can make all the difference.
After the Gold Cup, the team will not be in competitive action until next year. We will use this time to further strengthen the development of our domestic-based national team players together with a consistent level of local and international games.”
Forde continued, “We are organizing at least two friendly matches which will give the players a few additional competitive hours to strengthen their game readiness.
Everyone involved are fully aware of how getting to the round of 16 would lift the spirit of the nation.”
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