MIAMI, Florida – For the first time in their history, Suriname will play in the Concacaf Gold Cup after qualifying for the 2021 tournament thanks to a first-place finish in Group D of League B of the 2019-20 Concacaf Nations League.
The man behind this historical accomplishment is Suriname-born Dean Gorré, who is in his second spell as Head Coach of Suriname. Managing a national team that largely consists of amateur players has, at times, been a difficult for Gorré, but the former Ajax and Feyenoord MF is now reaping the rewards for his hard work.
“It has been a rollercoaster to be honest, especially when you work with amateurs. I am trying to work and implement the same thing that I’m used to from my time as a player and coach in Europe and put it in an environment where they are not used to being professional,” said Gorré in an exclusive interview with Concacaf.com.
“I am trying to put professional thinking into the minds of players and also the staff and the Suriname FA. It was tough, but it was so enjoyable because the SVB (Surinaamse Voetbal Bond) gave me all the opportunity to work and that’s incredible. They had trust in me to do it, and gave me everything I asked for so, that’s a big thank you to them,” added Gorré.
In the CNL, Suriname found themselves in a group with two very familiar foes: Dominica and Nicaragua, along with Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Dominica played spoiler to Suriname in CNL Qualifying as their 0-0 draw on matchday 1 was the pivotal result that kept Suriname from a Gold Cup berth. Almost five years ago, Suriname had clashed with Nicaragua in Concacaf World Cup Qualifying, narrowly losing twice. For Gorré, the CNL was a chance to settle some unpaid debts.
“If you look at our group, there were two teams that I had already played and had something to deal with. We beat Dominica twice and we beat Nicaragua twice, so the two teams we had something to deal with, I put it right,” said Gorré.
The clinching win came on the final matchday of Group D in a 2-1 triumph in Nicaragua. What happened afterward will be something that Gorré will always cherish.
“When you see the emotion of the country, they were so happy. There were celebrations, congratulations, free food at restaurants! People saying ‘thank you for getting us to the Gold Cup!’ It was an amazing experience to see how people in Suriname reacted and there’s more to come,” said Gorré.
One of the revelations of the CNL was Suriname FW Gleofilo Vlijter, who scored 10 goals to finish not only as the top scorer of League B, but all three Leagues. At 20 years of age, Gorré believes the sky is the limit for Vlijter.
“Not to put pressure on him, but he can go all the way if he wants to, if he puts his mind to it. The only thing that he has against him is that his path started in Suriname in amateur football, so there is a lot for him to get to level where he can be, he could have been further if he had his education in a professional environment. Having said that, he’s still a top player. In my first spell as national team manager, I made him make his debut at age 15 against Guyana when he came on as a sub. I saw him play and I took him in so I knew already that he was special. He’s 20 and still a young boy and you can see that he’s growing. He’s been to different countries to play and now he knows what is asked of him,” said Gorré.
Yet like everyone in football at the moment, Gorré has had to press the pause button during the COVID-19 crisis, and he is eager to get back out on the training field with his team to get ramped up for next summer’s Gold Cup and World Cup qualifying.
“This pandemic kind of spoils things because these are the times when we can train, we can play to get them ready for the Gold Cup and get them ready for World Cup qualification. Now it’s impossible because how many moments are you going to get? I need games, I need time with the team. What’s going to happen? That’s the big question,” said Gorré.
Once football resumes, Gorré will return to his task of taking Suriname to new heights, and the belief is there that Suriname can put their stamp on the Concacaf region for years to come.
“If you look at the history of Suriname football, in the 1970s we were in the top. Suriname had the best players. Robinhood and Transvaal had the top teams in Concacaf, the ones to beat. For whatever reason things went wrong in the last 40 years. But now the turning point has started and I’m the first person from Europe who made it to the top of football to lead the national team and make a new impact on Suriname football,” concluded Gorré.