‘We are ready for battle’ – Coach Johnson says ahead of clash with Belize in CONCACAF Gold Cup qualifier

The Golden Jags going through some light paces.
FILE: The Golden Jags going through some light paces.

Guyana’s Senior Men’s football team will play their most important game yet when they meet with Belize in their last CONCACAF Gold Cup qualifier match on March 23. When the Golden Jags take to the field in March, they will be under the instruction of Head Coach Michael Johnson, who is positive about the team’s chances of qualifying.

Johnson is currently in Guyana, with a packed itinerary which is focused on getting a batch of local players in shape for the national team selection. Building on the work that is being done by Assistant Coach Charles Pollard, not only did the Head Coach have praises for his second-in-command but also for the promising

“It’s an excellent facility to work on, the players have been brilliant so far. The idea is actually to come in, support, nurture and get the players ready for what is a massive game coming up in March,” Johnson stated.

Coach Michael Johnson

Shifting his focus to the national team selection, Johnson noted that there were a host of players who can cop a spot in the team. And the foreign players who have participated in previous matches are not to be forgotten.

“So, of course, you’d expect the players overseas to be at a really good place,” Johnson said, citing the advantage that the overseas players might have.

In spite of this, he is cognisant of the talent that the local players are bringing to the table.

“Everybody is in contention; I wouldn’t rule out anybody, even players [who] have not been involved. I’m looking at this group of players with a fresh eye. Everybody’s in contention; this is why the camp is here, so we can see which players are outperforming. It’s open for everybody to come and compete. It would be remiss of me to rule out anybody at this stage.”

Speaking about the mindset of the players, Johnson explained that the onus was upon him to make sure that the players were mentally ready.

“That’s what my job is to do, to make sure that everybody is really tuned in to what we want them to do, so they can give a hundred per cent and leave nothing to doubt. Individual performances and as a team, my job is to make sure that happens,” Johnson stated.

Furthermore, he explained that everyone involved was aware of the possibilities and opportunities that can come from a win and qualification, stating, “It’s massive, we all know what’s at stake here; we all know the opportunities that it would give for the players; we all know that it would put Guyana on the footballing map and on the international stage. So, we understand the ramifications of the game. And we will be trying one hundred per cent to make sure we deliver on it.”

As such, the Head Coach also stressed on the importance of having a venue that is accessible to the largest number of excited and supportive patrons, which is integral to the team’s performance.

“What I think is if we start saying this is where we’re going to play, it’s a good opportunity for the Federation to start marketing the game to the fans in that way. So as soon as we can confirm we can use the stadium, which will be great, obviously there’s more supporters and I think it’ll be a benefit for not only the team but the nation,” he explained.

The Head Coach also shared that he has been keen on examining Guyana’s opponents, Belize. Noting that Belize are a strong team, Johnson boldly promised that the Golden Jaguars will be ready for battle come March 23.

“Very, very good in transition. Very good at defending and breaking at quick speed, so we got to be ready for it. Analytically we’re preparing for it now, we are making sure we leave no stone unturned. And we will be ready for the game.” (Jemima Holmes)


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