‘Roar to the Gold Cup’ countdown campaign launched

90 minutes to glory!

By Jemima Holmes

March 23 is the date marked on many calendars, because it is when the Guyanese senior men’s football team, the Golden Jaguars, are set to roar in their final CONCACAF Nations League Qualifier match.
Coming against a “very strong, very organised Belize team”, as described by the Guyana Football Federation’s Technical Director Ian Greenwood, the Golden Jags will need to bring their A game to the encounter, and pull out all the stops if they are to make it into the very lucrative CONCACAF Nations League. As such, the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) is capitalising on home advantage by rallying the twelfth man, the fans, for the March 23 encounter.

Technical Director Ian Greenwood is confident about Guyana’s chances, come March 23

The ‘Roar to the Gold Cup’ campaign will see a series of media engagements and campaigns targeted at sensitising the Guyanese public about the national team’s most important game to date.
With much pomp and splendour, the launch of the campaign was hoisted at the Guyana Pegasus Hotel on Thursday afternoon. Technical Director of the GFF, Ian Greenwood, aside from detailing the preparation process of the team, which include a local players’ camp and practice matches against clubs, regional member association (RMA) teams and the impending game against Suriname last week, emphasised the importance of the March 23 qualifier match, noting that it is Guyana’s ticket into the big league.
“We are 90 minutes away from playing with the big boys. The Mexicos, the USAs, we’re almost at the level. We also have to take into account where we’re at, what we have, and what we have available to us,” he said.
Greenwood admitted that the GFF recognises the importance of ensuring that players are adequately compensated.
“So, in terms of player compensation for the Nations League campaign, it’s been drastically increased. So, in terms of figures for stipends and also for bonuses; in terms of match fees; in terms of how everything is perceived; and having a standard figure for all the players, whether international or players based in Guyana, figures are up by around 65 per cent. So it shows how serious we’re taking everything with the senior national team,” he reasoned.
In similar vein, Assistant coach Charles Pollard pinpointed the inclusion of a large base of local players, each competing for their spot in the national team. Citing his experience as a former national player, Pollard disclosed his great pleasure by this development.
“It’s important that the local guys have a chance, and I think it’s a great initiative by the GFF to put this eight weeks’ programme together. I think it’s’ the first time the national team ever trained with a well-marked ground, nets and portable goals. So I think the training facility could only enhance the preparation for this programme.”
Representing the local players’ pool, Anthony Bamfield’s few words included elation at being one win away from glory.
“I think this occasion is a dream come true not just for me, but for the team — to be one win away from playing in a major tournament,” Bamfield stated.
Social Media Officer of the GFF, Keeran Williams, used his time at the podium to detail the GFF’s marketing options for the impending games, which include a bronze, silver and gold package. Companies can enjoy advertising, branding, and even the leisure of a national team ambassador.
Additionally, companies can also prepare beverage packages.
GFF President, Wayne Forde, called on the diaspora to come out to the National Track and Field Centre at Leonora to support the local team.
“In the world of football, the host nation usually has the advantage; and that is the chance to have a twelfth person in the team, and that twelfth person is the fans. So I want to use this opportunity to encourage all of Guyana; every class, creed, every race, every social strata, to come out and be a boisterous twelfth man for the Golden Jaguars on March 23,” he appealed.

100 days to CONCACAF kick-off
In perfect timing with the GFF’s campaign, the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) also announced yesterday, 100 days out from the kickoff of the 2019 Gold Cup, that the groups and full schedule for the 15th edition of the Confederation’s tournament will be unveiled in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 10. The head coaches of the 16 participating national teams, as well as CONCACAF executives and legends of the game, are scheduled to be in attendance. As such, if Guyana should make it into the league, Head Coach Michael Johnson will be the one to represent the Golden Jaguars at the event.

To date, six of the 16 national teams have qualified for the tournament, those being the countries that participated in the 2018 FIFA World Cup hexagonal qualifier round: Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States. The other 10 nations will qualify for the Gold Cup via the CONCACAF Nations League Qualifier, with the final round taking place during the March FIFA match fixtures.
Tickets for the match on March 23 are currently on sale at Guinness Bar, Andrews Supermarket, and West Indian Sports Complex, while T-shirts are on sale at the GFF office.