Guyana’s senior men’s hockey team is scheduled journey to the Twin Island Republic to match their skills against the Trinidad and Tobago men’s team at the weekend as part of their preparation for the upcoming Central American and Caribbean (CAC) games in Colombia.
This weekend’s matches, against the top-ranked Trinidad unit, will be used as a litmus test to assess the team’s preparedness for the upcoming tournament.
The locals, according to Coach Robert Fernandes, are also keen on using the opportunity to participate in a few practice sessions on Trinidad’s ‘Turf’ facility, since there is no such facility in Guyana.
“It’s our only opportunity to assess the player’s performance under similar conditions they will face in Colombia, in terms of the playing surface and the high quality of the opposition,” Fernandes told Stabroek Sports in an exclusive interview.
He added, “Unfortunately, because we don’t have an artificial turf locally we are never able to attract other countries for friendly matches as part of our preparations.
“Traveling to Trinidad is our cheapest option and considering they are the defending silver medalists and the top seed in this year’s tournament, the tour will give us a true measurement of where we are. It’s a three-match series from June 15-17, and we will also utilise the opportunity to have two practice sessions on the turf.”
Fernandes disclosed that the team’s adeptness to their tactical discussions would also be tested and assessed.
“I will be using the matches to evaluate the effectiveness of different team tactics, find the most effective combination of personnel and address any weaknesses that the opposition may expose.”
According to the coach, the squad has been training for the past four months and is now down to 20 men following the initial 34 that were shortlisted.
Touching on the team’s preparation, the coach said that his charges went ‘through several phases of preparations’.
“They [team] completed an outdoor skills inventory, small unit play, pressing, outletting, set plays and team tactics for playing with and against numerical advantages.”
He said that former US and Canadian national FIH hockey Coach, Shiv Jagday also worked with the team over the past week in an effort to improve their mental approach to the game.
“Now it’s just to see how the boys are able to execute under pressure.”
Fernandes spoke confidently of the team’s combinations and stressed the importance of synergy as the unit moves forward.
He described the team as having a strong ‘spine’ of high character whose grit comes from goalkeeper Medroy Scotland, a top performer at the last Pan Am Indoors and the CAC qualifiers.
The defence, he said, will be manned by veteran playmaker Dwayne Scott, with the team’s best talent, Jamarj Assanah, as its engine in the midfield.
On the attacking side, skipper and Pan Am Elite player, Robert France will be entrusted with the task of finding the back of the net.
The 20 players shortlisted are as follows and the final 16 for the CAC will be named after Trinidad: Jamarj Assanah, Leon Bacchus, Aroydy Brandford, Rayon Branford, Jerazeno Bell, Hilton Chester, Edmond Chinian, Marvin Dannett, Jason DeSantos, Robert France, Randy Hope, Christopher Low-Loan, Kareem McKenzie, Mark Sargeant, Meshach Sargeant, Medroy Scotland, Dwayne Scott, Andrew Stewart, David Williams and Steven Xavier.