Guyana’s disastrous campaign in the CONCACAF U20 Championship ended last night on a historic note, upsetting group winner and undefeated El Salvador 2-0 at the IMG Academy, Florida, USA.
The large fandom for El Salvador could not deter the efforts of the local lads, who fashioned an ‘Italianesque’ performance to capture the unlikely result. The numbers speak for themselves. El Salvador recorded 61 percent possession, with 356 passes completed out of 411 for a passing accuracy of 87 percent, their lowest to date.
On the other hand, Guyana completed 190 out of 217 passes at a rate of 88 percent. Although recording 39 percent of possession, Guyana tallied 16 [7 on target] shots to their foe’s 14 [8 on target] attempts.
In terms of fouls committed, Guyana’s robust rearguard conceded 19, 11 more than their opponent, while outscoring El Salvador 8-6 in the corner kick category.
In the interception department, the Guyanese tallied 11 compared to their Central American foe’s 16.
With a starting XI that consisted of [GK] Jamain Cumberbatch, Jeremy Garrett [Captain], Cecil Jackman, Raushan Ritch, Bevan Baker, Ryan Dowding, Jalen Case, Leon Richardson, Job Caesar, Kelsey Benjamin and Chris Macey, Guyana thwarted the efforts of the El Salvadoran unit through a disciplined defensive posture en route to a 1-0 lead at the halftime interval. Surrendering 64 percent possession of the ball in the first half, Guyana highlighted that possession without penetration is an exercise in futility as they took the lead in the 45th+1 minute, following a total of six shots on goal.
Benjamin, who has been Guyana’s primary weapon through the tournament and for majority of this encounter, opened the scoring in a clinical manner, turning his marker just outside the top of the box, before unleashing a powerful strike into the top right corner. The conversion silenced the venue the rival fans, as the referees whistle sounded to end the half alongside a sprinkling of cheers from the Guyanese that made the long trek to witness the clash.
Although the second half started brightly for El Salvador, who recorded two attempts on target, it was the Guyanese that almost added to the scoreline, as Job Caesar was denied by a last ditch block inside the right of the box in the 62nd minute.
The resulting right-sided corner that emanated from the aforesaid strike, provided the avenue for Guyana to increase their lead, as Jeremy Garrett doubled their advantage one minute later.
It was a thing of beauty as Garrett rose above his marker inside the centre of the box to direct his glancing header into the top left corner. The conversion knocked the wind out of the El Salvador sails who seemed unable to break down Guyana’s defensive wall.
Even red cards to Baker in the 81st minute following a second yellow card, and marching orders to Ritch six minutes onward for a hand-ball infraction, did not hinder Guyana’s rearguard performance.
In fact, a resulting counterattack following an opposing cornerkick in the 90th minute, should have produced Guyana’s third goal, as Dowding fired his effort directly at the opposing custodian.