4th March, 2017; Georgetown:
The “Flour Power” National Under-17 Boys’ Team beat Caribbean powerhouse Haiti by three goals to one at the International Tournoi Paul Chillan in Martinique on Saturday, after an encouraging start to the competition involving two closelyfought defeats against the hosts and a strong Guadeloupe side.
The commanding victory against Haiti underlines the rapid progress Guyana’s youth teams are making under the new national football philosophy, and points to a promising future for the national teams. Goals from 14-year-old winger Orvil Daniels of Paiomak Warriors in the Rupununi, Eastveldt’s Zian Gray and Fruta Conquerors’ Jeremy Garrett sealed a memorable win for the team.
The squad is participating in the tournament because the Guyana Football Federation wants to expose its national youth sides to stronger competition from the French-speaking Caribbean, including those that have the full support and financial backing of the French Football Federation, in order to accelerate the development of Guyana’s best young players.
“This is a fantastic result for the team today – they dictated the game, and all their hard work over the last week has really paid off,” said GFF Technical Director Ian Greenwood. “We have been so pleased with the way the boys have handled the challenge of playing against this kind of strong opposition from the French-speaking Caribbean. The other team delegations have also been extremely impressed with the progress Guyana has made in such a short space of time.”
Daniels scored in the first half with a curling free kick from the edge of the area. Gray doubled the lead with a peach of a finish after latching on to an inch-perfect pass from US-based captain Joshua Ferreira. Haiti pulled one back after a defensive mix-up, but Garrett sealed a memorable victory following a stunning free kick in the dying minutes of the game.
Fruta Conquerors’ Cecil Jackman defended aggressively throughout with Milerock keeper Jonathan Copeland once again a commanding presence in goal. Progressive Youths’ Ferreira and Garrett bossed the midfield battle, while Daniels offered a constant attacking threat from wide positions. In their first match, the team put in an impressive performance to hold their own against a tough Guadeloupe team, only to lose 1-0 after a late penalty following an individual error in defence.
The junior Jaguars created a number of goal-scoring chances during that game but were unable to find the back of the net. Grove Hi-Tech defender Ackel Forde also suffered a dislocated shoulder during the match. Their second fixture against Martinique was another evenly-balanced clash, which saw the junior Jaguars growing in confidence individually and as a unit, but ended 2-1 in favour of the hosts.
The team defended well, particularly against set pieces, and goalkeeper Copeland put in a dominant display with a string of fine saves. In attack, Ferreira led by example throughout, scored with a fine strike, and was a permanent menace in front of goal. Another late penalty, which could have gone either way, was all that separated the two teams.
“Captain Ferreira and Copeland in goal have been inspirational and, most importantly, the boys are playing really well together as a disciplined, professional unit – building on the tactical, technical and set piece improvements we were able to make during the training camp,” Greenwood said. The squad in Martinique prepared for the tournament with an intensive, week-long Guyana Football Federation camp in Berbice, and features two players from the under-15 ranks – Paiomak Warriors’ Daniels and Buxton United’s Troni Semple.