The long and mostly hard climb to football’s summit has ended for Guyana’s Golden Jaguars following their exit in the second round of the Caribbean Football Cup in Grenada, in a year that saw the team seeking to advance in their 2014 World Cup campaign and now the CFU organized tournament.
The collapse reflects that of a climber falling off a cliff after a tumultuous climb and the big question now is – how strong in Guyana’s football to survive this most recent setback.
Golden Jaguars were beaten by Haiti (0-1) and Grenada (1-2) in the playoff of the regional competition in Grenada, a disappointing performance for a team that only months ago participated in the third round of the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification for teams in CONCACAF, the highest any team representing the Golden Arrowhead has ever achieved.
They will face French Guiana in their final match of the Group Six playoffs today in the Spice Island but it will be of little academic importance.
The year 2012 started with great anticipation when the Guyanese now ranked 116 by FIFA battled with Latin American giants Mexico ranked 14th in the world, Costa Rica (64th) and El Salvador (94th) in the CONCACAF 2014 World Cup qualification series. Mexico and Costa Rica are previous World Cup finalists.
Guyana’s 1-3 defeat to regional powerhouse Mexico at the Azteca Stadium in their opening match in the playoff was viewed by football pundits as an incredible feat and a later draw against El Salvador provided the platform for the team to be viewed as one of the new and upcoming stars of football in this hemisphere.
But the Jaguars performance began to go downhill and by the end of their six matches, the results read Guyana versus Mexico 1-3, 0-7, Costa Rica 0-4, 0-7 and El Salvador 2-2, 2-3.
Many see Guyana’s exit as a blessing in disguise as the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) finds itself in serious financial difficulties and unable to provide the necessary funding for these international engagements.
The situation is so grave that several regular starters on the team including lethal striker Gregory “Jackie Chan” Richardson abandoned the squad for Grenada due to the measly stipend being offered by the GFF.
Richardson was Guyana’s savior in the first round of the CFU tournament in St. Lucia after Guyana lost to St. Vincent and the Grenadines 3-0 before beating Curacao 1-0 and host St. Lucia 3-0.
During the World Cup qualifiers the Jaguars were forced to play their return match against Mexico in the United States due to the financial situation as the GFF executives outlined, but questions are being asked as to the financial package that the GFF received for that match in Houston, Texas and what has become of it.
On the home front the situation is similar, with the GFF still locked in a court battle with the Georgetown Football Association (GFA) that has aggravated the outlook both on and off the field.
Even the performances of the clubs in the GFF Super League leave much to be desired and competing tournaments by Kashif and Shanghai and the GFA next month are other reflections of the appalling state of football in Guyana.
Recent attempts by the GFA to engage the GFF as well as the Odinga Lumumba’s initiative should be supported as football looks for survival locally.
A resolution is desperately needed now for the survival of football in Guyana.