Lady Jags in camp for February 17 high-stakes match
Omar Khan, Head Coach of Guyana’s senior women’s national team the Lady Jags, is confident he has selected a spirited and youthful 23-member squad for the February 17 must-win CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup Preliminary clash against the Dominican Republic, to be played in the United States.
The high-stakes elimination showdown will take place at the Dignity Health Sports Park Track and Field Stadium in Los Angeles. A victory would propel the Lady Jags to the group stage of the inaugural CONCACAF W Gold Cup.
“We have a young team. It’s a great team to work with, a lot of enthusiastic ladies who give everything,” Khan shared in an interview on February 10.
Adjustments have been made to the lineup that achieved a commanding 5-0 victory against Dominica in the CONCACAF Women’s Road to Gold Cup last November. Khan has introduced a new player, midfielder Hope Windebank, and brought back four players as part of his strategy for the upcoming elimination match. The returning players are defenders Sydney Cummings and Heike Clarke, along with forwards Jenea Knight and Lakeisha Pearson.
Goalkeepers: Chante’ Sandiford, Raven Edwards- Dowdall and Aneesa O’Brien
Defenders: Anya Tribune, Anika Sproxton, Kristen Bettencourt, Rylee Traicoff, Sydney Cummings and Heike Clarke
Midfielders: Stefanie Kouzas, Brianne Desa, Jalade Trim, Hope Windebank, Hannah Baptiste, Sandra Johnson and Samantha Banfield
Forwards: Otesha Charles, Shanice Alfred, Annalisa Vincent, Jenea Knight, Lakeisha Pearson, Neema Liverpool and Dylana Makarowski.
Khan explained that the Lady Jags have maintained their fitness over the past few weeks through a virtual fitness plan, in preparation for the five-day encampment set to start on Monday, February 11 in Los Angeles.
In the upcoming week, training will focus on refining and honing every aspect of their game, from “attacking, defending, transitions, set pieces, strength (and) conditioning,” according to the head coach.
“The main thing is to get a good team on the pitch. Good team building. I think the biggest aim for success will be getting a team that’s prepared; know what they have to do in every part of the game: when we have the ball, when we don’t have the ball. Those are the key elements.”
The task would not be straightforward against the Dominican Republic, a team known for robust defence. The upcoming match will be a formidable challenge, as the opponents are equally resolute in their determination to progress to the next round.
The Group Stage will, between February 20 and 28, feature twelves (12) national teams across several venues – Dignity Health Sports Park, Snapdragon Stadium, and Shell Energy Stadium – all located in the United States.
After the round-robin phase, group winners, runners-up, and the two most successful third-place finishers would secure spots in the quarterfinals.
Subsequently, the semifinals and the final are set to take place at the Snapdragon Stadium on March 6 and 10 respectively.
Khan added that advancing to the group stage would be a “real boost to this team to keep going”, and an excellent promotion for women’s football in Guyana.
GFF President Wayne Forde has said the chosen squad possesses the skills to overcome the Dominican Republic, and has urged all Guyanese, at home and abroad, to unite in support of the team.