Guyana’s Golden Jaguars football team, ranked 91st in World in the FIFA rankings, will take on Guatemala, one of the best football teams in Central America ranked 84th in the World, at the Guyana National Stadium on Wednesday from 8.00pm.
The Golden Jaguars team has just returned from playing four friendly matches in the Caribbean in which mainly younger local based players were tested under coach Jamaal Shabazz’s newly derived “two-tier” approach for development of the national side.
Wednesday’s massive encounter therefore, will be the Jaguars’ first encounter of the year with a highly-ranked team after qualifying for the third round of the FIFA 2014 World Cup qualifiers where they will face Mexico, Costa Rica and El Salvador.
The significance of the national side reaching this round is also highlighted by the fact that it is an official FIFA date for 2012 in which 37 other international friendlies will also be played around the World.
Essentially the Golden Jaguars are playing in the big leagues of World football by FIFA standards.
The Guyana team is expected to have a very strong line up with returning overseas based players such as charismatic captain Chris Nurse of North American Soccer League (NASL) side Carolina Railhawks, the goal scoring heroes from the now historical night colloquially dubbed “11-11-11” when Guyana toppled the Soca Warriors such as Leon Cort and Ricky Shakes who play in England, along with return of defender John Paul “JP” Rodrigues of NASL side Tampa Bay Rowdies after he missed most of the second round qualifying campaign last year due to injury.
Local based players such as Greogry “Jackie Chan” Richardson, Anthony ‘Awo’ Abrams, Kayode McKinnon and youngster Trayon Bobb who received great plaudits from coach Shabazz for his efforts during the four-game Caribbean tour – are some of the names expected to line-up for the national 20-man squad.
Guatemala, known as the “La Azul y Blanco” (the blue and white) are also preparing for their third round qualifying match against the United States, Jamaica and Antigua and Barbuda.
They recently began their 2012 calendar of friendly internationals losing 1-2 to Paraguay in Paraguay last Wednesday and are expected to be bringing a strong and very experienced team with players such as their all-time leading goal-scorer Carlos Ruiz who has years of experience playing in Major League Soccer (MLS) for teams such as LA Galaxy and FC Dallas, mid-field general Marco Papa of Chicago Fire (MLS) and their most capped player Guillermo Ramirez.
The match should be very exciting since the Guatemala team will be coming to try to prove their dominance over their South American counterparts.
The Golden Jaguars have qualified for the first time in their football history for the third round of the FIFA 2014 World Cup, compared to Guatemala who have reached the final round of qualifying on four occasions.
The Golden Jaguars would be trying to win in order to send a message to their Mexican rivals who they will be playing first in the econd round in Mexico on June 8.
The Guyana Football Federation urges the thousands of fans who turned out on November 11 2011 and played the role of “12th man” to perfection as the Jaguars eliminated Trinidad and Tobago to come out again and continue to make the national stadium “Fortress Providence” a very intimidating atmosphere for our opposition.