Guyana's "Golden Jaguars" are looking to make an impact in the 2017/2018 CONCACAF Nations League and are hoping that a positive showing in the competition can be instrumental in their goal to become a top-five ranked Caribbean nation by 2021
According to Technical Director of the Guyana Football Federation Ian Greenwood, Guyana sees the Nations League as the perfect stage for the country to have sustained international participation which will aid in the country's overall development.
"For Guyana and the region, the CONCACAF Nations League is the ideal competition for development," Greenwood told CONCACAF.com on Thursday.
"Having sustained international fixtures is the only way that we can develop as a region. It's been too many times where the countries are not playing enough competitive football. For Guyana itself, it is a great platform itself to really establish ourselves as one of the top teams in the Caribbean.
"Having a structured format where we will be playing competitive international fixtures on a regular basis can only lead to positive things for us as a country. It is also a clear pathway for our younger payers being developed in Guyana to have something to aspire to in terms of realistic opportunities to qualify for further CONCACAF tournaments," said Greenwood who is a former academy and youth team coach with English clubs Leeds United and Huddersfield Town.
Greenwood noted that Guyana is in a rebuilding phase at the moment with its biggest accomplishment in recent years has been their progress to the CONCACAF Semi-Final Round of the 2014 World Cup qualification.
"We are currently in a rebuilding phase. We have young players based in Guyana and Guyanese based in the UK and North America. We have the raw materials to be a top-five team in the Caribbean and have had a lot of key players coming through our system. We feel that we can be very competitive going into these first set of games in the Nations League. We are expecting positive performances and good results along the way," Greenwood said.
Guyana was drawn against Barbados, Turks and Caicos Islands, French Guiana and Belize for the opening phase of the Nations League qualifiers. Guyana will play host to Barbados and Belize in September 2018 and March 2019 respectively in the first and final qualifier while the Turks and Caicos Islands and French Guiana will host Guyana in October and November 2018.
The Guyana Women's Team is also engaged in the CONCACAF Women's World Cup qualifiers in May.
"The female programme has been recently relaunched in the country as well with a big focus on young players coming into the setup," Greenwood noted.
"We recently competed in the CFU Women's Challenge Series in Trinidad with a lot of fifteen and sixteen-year-olds in the squad. We also have a mix of Guyanese players based abroad. We are confident that over the next three to four years we can be a strong team in the region."
Overall, Greenwood is pleased with the assistance being received from CONCACAF towards Guyana's football development, particularly as it relates to coach education and league development.
"From CONCACAF's standpoint, one of the major aspects we have been engaged in recently has been the coach licensing programmes because coach education is massive for us. Recently we had three coaching instructors trained by CONCACAF which will help raise the level of coaching in the country. The support we have been getting from CONCACAF in club development is also a major aspect we are looking to move forward with.
"Overall the engagements we have with CONCACAF on the development side through the One CONCACAF funding is really helping to establish our development programs and raising the level of professionalism and capacity within the country," said Greenwood.
He was also clear on the objectives of the Guyana Football Federation.
"We have some clear objectives that we want to realize. We have recently established a national academy structure which is the first time Guyana has had such a structure. We are looking to have our youth teams participate in every competition. We have goals for our national senior team to be top a Caribbean team and a top FIFA one hundred ranked team in the next two to three years. Ultimately we also want to triple our licensed coaches in the country and increase the player population. We have forty qualified CONCACAF D License coaches which we intend to double and also move up to the C License, Greenwood said.