Prelims Qualifer: Guatemala 4 – Guyana 0
July 4 – A pulsating night of crowd energy and fast paced football in Fort Lauderdale last night ignited the touch paper for the Gold Cup whose group stages start July 10.
More than 8,000 Guatemalan fans were in the DRV PNK Stadium, home of Inter Miami, to drive their team on to a 4-0 win, a result that didn’t do justice to a Guyana team who showed their touches of class and contributed fully to the occasion.
Guatemala are Gold Cup regulars but a poor run in the Nations League saw them with more work to do to qualify for the 2021 event. Guyana, who were debutants in the Gold Cup in 2019, were desperate for a return to the big competition stage and despite the scoreline showed they had improved since the last tournament.
The match opened with Guyana doing the bulk of the defending in the first 20 minutes as they adjusted to the high intensity of the Guatemalans, encouraged by a vocal support that added to the cauldron of a hot southern Florida Saturday night. They would have been ahead on 12 minutes without a goal line clearance by Guyana skipper Mathew Briggs.
On 21 minutes the Guatemalans had their breakthrough, helped by a big chunk of luck. A shot from Stheven Robles from 30m was going wide of the goal until Reiss Greenidge deflected the ball with an outstretched leg towards the goal, leaving goalkeeper Kai McKenzie-Lyle going the wrong way.
It was a horrible wake-up call for Guyana and a joyous celebration for the Guatemalans and their fans who raised their support a level higher.
Jairo Arreola was a constant threat, especially from the right, while Marvin Ceballos came close to doubling the lead on 26 minutes with a shot well saved by McKenzie-Lyle. Guyana were starting to come back into the game though with attacks of their own. A free kick on 35 minutes just went over the bar. If that had gone in then the game could have changed.
Instead the game-changing moment came on 39 minutes with Keanu Marsh-Brown being sent off for a head high kick – while no damage was done it was a straight red card for the Newport County midfielder.
Guatemala made their man advantage count in the second half with a second goal in the 54thminute when a defensive mix up saw Luis Martinez swoop on to loose ball in the area to score.
The goal only seemed to galvanise 10-man Guyana who increased their own levels and the pace of their attacks, unafraid to play the ball on the ground and ask probing questions of the Guatemalan defence.
Omari Glasgow hit the side netting when marauding through on the right, while Emery Welshman had successive attempt saved by Nicholas Hagen in the Guatemala goal.
On 70 minutes the ever present Ceballos whipped in cross that was met by Darwin Lom to glance the ball into the Guyana net for a 3-0 lead. Effectively it was game over.
On 79 minutes sub Jose Martinez met a cross to make it 4-0.
Guatemala progress to meet Guadeloupe. Guyana have made progress and despite the scoreline know they aren’t out of their depth in this company.
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