By Marlon Munroe
Guyana Football Federation (GFF) Technical Director attached to Guyana’s Lady Jaguars Mark Rodrigues admitted yesterday that he was pleased with the team’s prospects but was cognizant that more is expected from the team before their first match on Friday against St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Speaking to Stabroek Sport at the Georgetown Football Club (GFC) ground, Rodrigues said that yesterday’s session was organized in an attempt to improve the defense of the team.
The Lady Jaguars are attempting to qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup event in Germany from June 26 – July 17 next year.
It was noted that the team was missing their starting centre back Dario Owen, who will be arriving from Atlanta tomorrow.
“Today (Yesterday) we were focusing on the back four defending. This is defending in a zonal-type system where the players protect areas as opposed to marking a specific player. And as players switch in and out of a zone they have responsibilities.
“She is a key component to our defence and we can see the difference with her not here is affecting the session.
“So, we have to stop more and make corrections but when she gets here that should fix a lot of things,” Rodrigues explained.
He reported that the morale of the team was high and said it was also important that the coaching staff develop the right atmosphere for the team especially as it relates to gelling.
He elaborated that the footballers spent some time at the Splasmin’s Fun Park and Resort after they arrived on Saturday night and also because the locally based players were training for two weeks under the guidance of Wayne Dover.
“We did about 45 minutes of psychological training with them and other mental preparation and 45 minutes to enjoy themselves and that really made the difference. We can already see the changes in their communication during the training, ” he explained.
Stabroek Sport also understood that during the psychological training sessions the leading players were given simulation exercises of real time games and they were asked to solve those problems. He said the sessions at Splashmins served as a basis for yesterday’s training exercise at the GCC ground to ensure that the seniors in the team were stepping up for the younger players in the team. In essence, the senior players are extensions of the coaches when they demonstrate what they know to the less experienced players. On the other hand, Rodrigues pointed out that while the locally based players have some strides to make to be on par with the rest, they are a talented bunch of players who have not been given the requisite exposure to their overseas counterparts. He believes if the local ladies are exposed to the opportunities of the overseas players they can be as good, or in some cases, better. “It is just opportunity; the talent and athleticism are here. Guyana, probably, has some of the finest athletes in the world but the exposure just is not there and this is giving them that. So, even though some of the girls may not even get into a game because you are limited in your ‘subs’ in international play, the experience and exposure in training, playing with better players and getting into the sessions take them to the next level and then they can take that back to the training with the other younger local girls and the ripple effect is created.”
The technical director said that the coaching body is already looking at a local player to start along with the goalie and that in itself is a progression for the locals. He said that the ideal situation is to have a starting lineup of 11 local players and then have the international players come in to complement. When Stabroek Sport spoke to Coach Chris Brown he said that the technical body has been working on getting a sense of “pressure, cover and balance” from the back four. He said that they are working on the fundamentals and fortifying the defensive detail of the team.
He posited:“The defence starts from the progression of our back four and then we slowly started to add other players and positions so eventually they can get a back group of 10 defending as one unit.”
He said that one of the biggest challenges working with the locals would be the processing of information especially since many of the concepts are new to them. He said that the locals are behind tactically but he can get them prepared for their match on Friday.
When this publication enquired whether the girls are grasping the concepts quickly enough he said yes and that over the next couple of days the said concepts will be repeated and hopefully their execution of these techniques will become “second nature.” “For the most part they are quick learners and they are all pretty athletic so that helps a lot. So even when things are not completely dead on they can look at Collette (Hope), who may not tactically be in the best spot but she is so gifted athletically that she is able to recover and make up for that. But I believe over the course of the next couple of days it will be crucial that we continue working on them,” Brown declared.
Goalkeeping coach Ali Tabrizi pointed out that since the other coaches are working on the defensive front it was his job to work on the goalies’ positioning on the field as well as “one V one breakaway saves.”
He stated that he was showing the girls how to make a one-on-one save should there be an infiltration of the back line.
On that same note he said that he was teaching the goalies how to distribute going forward. He noted that the girls are learning quickly and made reference to the training the girls would have been getting from Dover and the other personnel.