With the ‘Lady Jags’ eyeing a spot at next year’s Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, Head Coaching Mark Rodrigues said that he’s “cautiously optimistic” about his team’s chances entering the Caribbean Championship round.
Guyana’s senior national women’s football team – The Lady Jags – will face Puerto Rico on Wednesday November 18, at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Trinidad and Tobago in the final round Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Women’s Olympic Qualifier final round.
Guyana, Jamaica and Puerto Rico had qualified for the ‘four team playoff’ by coming out on top of their respective groups.
The Lady Jags are expected to arrive in the Twin Island Republic on November 16 and should Guyana be victorious against Puerto Rico, they will advance to the finals on November 20.
In the final round, the four teams will play a single-elimination tournament. The two finalists and the winner of the third place match will qualify for the 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship as CFU representatives.
If the Lady Jags finish within the top three, they will face the likes of USA, Canada, Mexico and two representatives from the Central American region.
By virtue reaching the 2010 CONCACAF Gold Cup in Cancun, the Women’s national team is country’s most successful.
Rodrigues caution, he says, comes with several factors, with the USA based coach pointing out “Trinidad has already encamp their players for over a week now, and will continue to work with them up to their first round of qualifying early in November, and thereafter into the Championships on Nov 18 – 20”.
He added “Jamaica and Puerto Rico have also encamped their players in preparation for this all important round, as they know the importance of advancing to the CONCACAF Championships, having been there just a year ago in World Cup Qualifying”.
According to Rodrigues, Trinidad had failed to advance to the World Cup finals by just one goal against Ecuador and played exceptionally well against the USA despite losing 1 – 0 in the CONCACAF Championships.
According to Coach Rodrigues, the Lady Jags challenge to win their group in the Dominican Republic in August was primarily fitness which showed in the second half against Cuba.
Limited time together to train as a team was also a huge factor, with the coach drawing on the player’s experience to quickly understand what was involved with their chosen system of play.
“Technical Director – Claude Bolton’s extensive experience was invaluable in getting the players to quickly learn and adapt. The players experience allowed them to do a very good job of making numerous adjustments during the games on their won” Rodrigues said.
Since returning to their respective teams in the USA, Canada and the UK, the Lady Jags’ strength and conditioning coach David Lawrence has been working with the players using a structured system requiring the players to log and post online their results weekly.
Rodrigues pointed out that the players have all responded very well and the results have significantly shown in several players through their private online numbers.
“Along with Coach Lawrence’s fitness program, they have all continued to play in their respective leagues which are just coming to an end”
Rodrigues and the Lady Jags are “old hands” at preparing for competition to the best of their ability with very limited time, and this time around is no different, except having the added bonus of having Bolton’s experience and knowledge to draw on.