The Guyana men’s senior national football team, known as the Golden Jaguars, reached the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Gold Cup in 2019 for the first time in its history. Since then, the Golden Jaguars have been attempting to build upon that impressive feat with strong performances in the recently established CONCACAF Nations League. The league includes all CONCACAF Nations members and is split into three tiers (A, B, and C) with four groups (A, B, C, and D) in each tier. Guyana, which was playing in Group C of League B, recently concluded its six-game season with matches against Aruba and Jamaica. Antigua and Barbuda was the other team in the group.
Victory over Aruba
In its second-to-last game of the season, Guyana defeated Aruba by a score of 4-2 at the Leonora National Track & Field Center on November 15. More than two months ago, on September 6, the Golden Jaguars eked by Aruba with a score of 1-0. Aruba jumped out to an early lead in the rematch as Glenbert Croes scored just two minutes into the match. Guyana’s Matthew Briggs scored his first goal of the competition off a free kick opportunity five minutes later to even the score, but Aruba regained the advantage on a Gregor Breinburg penalty kick 15 minutes later.
Guyana’s Callum Harriott tied the contest in the 44th minute, and Trayon Bobb took over in the second half. The Guyana striker scored the go-ahead goal in the 53rd minute of the match and added an insurance marker in the 73rd minute. These were Bobb’s team-leading third and fourth goals, respectively, of the tournament. As a result of the loss, Aruba will be relegated to League C next season.
Draw against Jamaica
Given that Guyana dropped its previous match against Jamaica by a score of 4-0, it would have been hard to imagine the Golden Jaguars defeating Jamaica on November 18 at the Montego Bay Sports Complex. Moreover, Jamaica entered the game having already secured first place in Group C with a win-draw-loss record of 5-0-0 and 20 goals for compared to zero against. While Guyana didn’t score the surprise victory, it did put forth a commendable effort in earning a 1-1 draw. It was the first of the six matches between the two nations that Guyana didn’t lose. In the previous five meetings, Jamaica outscored Guyana 19-2.
Emery Welshman gave Guyana the 1-0 lead in the 45th minute of the match on a long ball from defender Matthew Briggs. Jamaica’s Javon East evened the match five minutes later, while Guyana keeper Quillan Roberts made a crucial save on Ricardo Morris in the final minute of play to preserve the tie. Roberts made four saves in the game.
While the draw was satisfactory for Guyana, Jamaica’s coaching staff was less than impressed with the result. The team’s manager Roy Simpson conducted a lengthy post-game meeting in which he let the players know he was disappointed in their efforts: “What became clear is that we and the players have a lot of work to do,” he told SportsMax.tv journalist Leighton Levy. “Next year will not be a year where players get the opportunity. We never wanted to drop points. We wanted to end with a more credible performance. How the team played was a big disappointment.”
Final Group C Standings and Implications
With its draw against Jamaica, Guyana finished second of four teams in Group C, meaning it will have a chance to qualify for its second consecutive CONCACAF Gold Cup via a play-in tournament. It will also stay in League B in next year’s CONCACAF Nations League. Jamaica, meanwhile, qualifies directly for the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup and earns promotion to League A of the CONCACAF Nations League. Aruba will be relegated to League C.
Other League B Results
The three other group winners in League B that will advance to the CONCACAF Nations League A for the 2020-21 season are Grenada, El Salvador, and Suriname. Grenada finished atop Group A with 14 points; El Salvador, with 15 points, finished first in Group B; and Suriname accumulated 13 points to finish first in Group D. French Guiana, Montserrat, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines all advanced to the first round of qualification for the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup by finishing second place in their respective groups. In addition to Aruba, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Dominica will play in League C next season.
Unlike Leagues B and C, League A culminates in a final championship round that brings together the four group winners. Those winners this year were Mexico, United States, Honduras, and Costa Rica. Mexico will play Costa Rica and Honduras will play the United States in June 2020, with the winners of both games playing to determine the League A champion. Cuba, Bermuda, Trinidad and Tobago, and Haiti were all relegated to League B. Finally, Barbados, Bahamas, Guatemala, and Guadeloupe won their respective League C groups and will also play in League B next season.