“The further a team or a player advances in a competition, the tougher the opponent becomes. Thus minimal mistakes and intensified preparations are essential towards achieving additional success”. As a consequence, it came as no surprise that Curaçao, ranked 152nd, which was once our whipping boy, was able to inflict a 5-2 drubbing on the ‘toothless’ Jaguars when the two teams clashed in a CFU qualifier at the Ergilio Hato Stadium on June 1.
Editor, from all the indications the 5-1 mauling at the expense of the visiting Canadians under-23 Olympic squad, taught the coaching/technical staff of the 132nd ranked Guyana, virtually nothing. The Head Coach of Curaçao, Patrick Kluivert, is a former Netherlands International who in 2014 was a member of the Dutch coaching staff in Brazil, which was en route to securing a bronze medal for their 3rd place finish. Of the three Guyana coaches for the two matches, the Jaguars’ Head Coach Jamal Shabbaz, is way out of his depth, while our very own Wayne ‘Wiggy’ Dover is probably 10 paces behind.
Until and unless our local coaches attend quality overseas FIFA accredited courses to challenge their regional counterparts in the CFU, the end result would be more devastation further afield in CONCACAF. Additionally, a few local players should be seeking try-outs with professional teams in Venezuela, for example. Take Cuba, for instance, which despite the economic hardship and a 50-year-old economic embargo imposed by Uncle Sam has a serious policy for football development, and more than 15 years ago recruited a Colombian, Senor Penarol, as their Head Coach. In addition, Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere can’t be overlooked. The Haitians with previous Gold Cup participation under their belt, are a representative of CFU/CONCACAF Copa Centenario, which kicks off in the USA from June 3, along with Jamaica.
“Flowery speeches and sweet talk will not develop local football, but rather a complete metamorphosis, encompassing eliminating the Jurassic style of administrative leadership along with [the] playing of Stone Age football,” said former national player turned coach, the late Ashton ‘Chucker’ Taylor. He was also the former President of Pele FC, and was speaking at a General Council meeting of the then Georgetown Football League over 15 years ago.
Fast forward to 2016 and is football a marketable product able to acquire much needed sponsorship? There is an eight-team elite league with the top three teams Slingerz FC, Fruta Conquerors and Alpha United securing goal differences of 35, 12 and 25 respectively, with respective points of 40, 34 and 30. Interestingly the 4th and 5th placed teams, Pele and GDF with 17 points each are in minus single digits: -5 and -6 respectively. The 6th, 7th and 8th teams are all in minus double digits: -10, -25 and -25 on 11 points, 6 points and 5 points respectively. Shouldn’t these figures be an area of concern for the GFF’s Technical Department, more especially in the absence of a supportive League with almost double the amount of teams drawn from all the associations?
The situation is the same in relation to the age-limit competitions for both males and females. Defeating USVI by a 7-0 margin in a round 2 fixture, is nothing to rejoice about, since the hosts were ranked 192, which was 60 places below the Golden Jaguars. With round three scheduled for October, 3-11, the coaching staff should be strengthened, with the acquisition perhaps of Clyde ‘Oiler’ Watson, a former Guyanese national, whose previous coaching experience with the USA female Olympic and World Cup squads remains a significant asset to coaching at the national level locally.
Additionally, there should be two friendly internationals against quality opponents, along with a high profile training camp abroad. Financing, however, is a major bugbear. Sport is no longer sport, it is rather serious business, and attracting meaningful sponsorship locally to defray expenses, would more than likely be our Achilles heel.