Carlos Ruiz (middle) will lead Guatemala at the 2015 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship in Jamaica. (Photo: Omar Solis Diaz)
GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala – Guatemala head coach Carlos Ruiz is calling the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship the biggest challenge of his career.
The Argentine was appointed in October as a replacement for Guillermo Morales, who guided the side through Central American qualifying with a fourth-place finish. The Chapines progressed by nipping Costa Rica for the region’s last berth on the head-to-head tiebreaker.
"It's the largest responsibility since I arrived in Guatemala 18 years ago," Ruiz told CONCACAF.com. "Directing a selection being abroad is a dual responsibility, which I assume with responsibility and professionalism.”
"Xuxa" admitted that he would have liked more time to prepare.
"You always want to arrive at a competition better, more friction, more games, etc." he said. "However, if we want to win important things, we have to beat important rivals.”
Nevertheless, Ruiz believes that the team has established a style to achieve the desired results in Jamaica.
“The idea is to be together, have a great sense of team,” the 47-year-old declared. “I hope to have a fighting team when we do not have the ball and a team that knows attack when we do."
Although Ruiz acknowledges it was not easy to choose the squad, he did add five new players from the one that competed in July’s qualifying competition.
In friendlies ahead of the CONCACAF event, the Bicolor fell in games against Mexico (3-0 and 5-0) and to El Salvador (1-0 and 4-1), so that Ruiz had to make some changes.
"The choice was difficult,” he noted. “Many players kept me sleepless, but I was left thinking. Some of our players are used to playing in stadiums full of people, facing tough opponents.”
The Guatemalans will open their quest for a place in the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup against Group A foe United States on Friday at the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica.