Guyana, Canada U23s prepare for milestone meeting

Canada U23 captain Maxime Crepeau (2nd from right) and Guyana captain Colin Nelson (2nd from left) display autographed replica jerseys after a ceremonial exchange on May 14, 2016.

GEORGETOWN, Guyana – As part of the nation’s 50th Independence Jubilee Anniversary celebrations, Guyana will host the Canada under-23 national team in a friendly Sunday at the Guyana National Stadium in Providence.

With an eye on Scotiabank CFU Men’s Caribbean Cup, second-round play next month, the Golden Jaguars have called in six overseas-based players, including defender Charles Ishankie, who was born in Guyana, but moved to England at 13-years-old.

Both teams were hosted Saturday by His Excellency Mr. Pierre Giroux, the Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana, on May 14 at his residence.

In his remarks at the event, Guyana head coach Jamal Shabazz noted that the Canadians’ visit is a significant milestone in the relationship between both nations.

“You will indeed get a test tomorrow,” said the 52-year-old. “You will get a huge test and we intend to put our best foot forward. We also want to thank the Canadian government over the years, not just for helping Guyana, but for opening up its doors to Caribbean people. We look forward to strengthening these ties.

“We look forward to meeting you on the pitch. We look forward to trying to break you down and defending against you trying to break us down and competing with a fierce desire to come out on top.”

Canada head coach Michael Findlay expressed congratulations to Guyana on its anniversary, but pointed out that there’s football to be played.

“There is nothing better than a football match to celebrate something and we look for to it,” he commented. “It gives us a great opportunity to engage in competition, but, most importantly, to advance ourselves as a nation and yourselves and also CONCACAF.”

At the end of formal proceedings, the respective team captains -- Colin Nelson (Guyana) and Maxime Crepeau (Canada) -- exchanged autographed jerseys as a mark of friendship.

Guyana is also using the encounter as preparation for its upcoming Caribbean Cup matches against Curacao (June 1, home) and the US Virgin Islands (June 7, away).