ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada – If a loss represents a large step in the right direction, then Guatemala’s 3-0 setback against Canada in the 2016 CONCACAF Under-17 Women’s Championship (CU17W) opener on Thursday was a milestone for the Central American nation.
After all, the Chapinas fell to the Canadians in two previous CU17W meetings 1-6 (2012) and 0-8 (2013).
Decreasing the margin of defeat by such a significant extent and the performance that brought about the achievement was a pleasing development to head coach Benjamin Monterroso.
“With the potential that Canada has, we think that we performed very well,” said the 63-year-old former Guatemala international. “It was a great match.”
Canada jumped out to a seventh-minute lead with a shot from distance by Jayde Riviere and doubled the advantage before halftime through TSG player of the match Sarah Stratigakis. In the second half, the only damage inflicted came off the foot of Vital Kats. The outstanding Kellin Mayen nearly got Guatemala on the scoreboard near the end, but her shot blazed inches over the crossbar.
“We tried to limit goals as much as we could, knowing that we have to play against Grenada and Haiti coming up,” Monterroso commented. “I think that we did really well in the second half. We came out with a lack of experience, so it took a little while for us to get accustomed. Once they (the Guatemalan players) saw the level of play and saw they could play against tougher teams, they lived up to our expectations.”
Two of Monterroso’s more experienced players, defenders Mayen and Didra Martinez, both competed for the Guatemala senior squad at the recently-completed CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship. Mayen played in all three games, starting in two of them, while Martinez took the field twice.
“These two players have been effectively brought up to an elite level of football in Guatemala,” expressed Monterroso in praise of the duo. “They have played in multiple tournaments and created an impact, giving them the experience that the other players don’t have yet.”
In two previous CU17W appearances, Guatemala did not get past the group stage. Can 2016 be the year for a breakthrough?
“Those are very difficult matches we have ahead,” Monterroso finished. “We have a hard group, but we have two opponents against which we feel that we can live up to expectations and progress in this tournament.”