Guatemala U20s take it one game at time

Players from Guatemala (pictured) celebrate after scoring against Trinidad & Tobago in the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship on January 14, 2015, in Kingston, Jamaica. (Photo: Mexsport)

KINGSTON, Jamaica – At the 2015 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship, Guatemala (2-1-0, 7 points) has proven adept at making the most of any situation. 

The young Chapines have played to their strengths and, as a result, they sit second in Group A with seven points, two behind table-topping Panama (3-0-0, 9 points) and three ahead of the United States (1-1-1, 4 points) and Trinidad & Tobago (1-1-1, 4 points).

In Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Trinidad, Guatemala may not have held the advantage in time of possession, but when it did have the ball, good things tended to happen.

“It was a good game because even though we didn’t have the ball a lot,” said Guatemala head coach Carlos Ruiz.  “The other team had much of the possession.  We had to double our efforts to defend.  The little time we had the ball, we took our chances and scored two goals.

“We were very lucky to come out victorious as the opportunities came from mistakes made by the Trinidadians.”

The Guatemalans capitalized on a pair of miscues for both tallies.  They took a 25th minute lead thanks to an own-goal by Martieon Watson and sealed the victory with two minutes remaining in normal time after Mauro Portillo dispossessed goalkeeper Johan Welch, who was out of the box with the ball at his feet.

“After watching the first game, we knew that Trinidad would be one of the most difficult opponents that we would have to face,” Ruiz expressed.  “They were very strong, tactically very good and they possessed the ball very well.”

Despite his team’s success thus far, Ruiz realizes that the job is nowhere near done.  Guatemala must first face Aruba (0-0-3, 0 points) on Sunday, before a potential group-deciding showdown against Panama three days later.

“I believe that the group is a very tough one,” the 48-year-old commented.  “There are still two games left to play and I believe that we need to get two wins or we won’t be celebrating anything at the end of it.  I’m telling my players to remain as disciplined as they have been and they need to listen to the tactics.  If we do that over the next two games, we’ll get the results that we want.”

That sentiment was echoed by Stheven Robles, one of the competition’s outstanding performers.

“We need to continue working hard,” finished the Comunicaciones midfielder.  “We have been getting the results and that’s what need to do for the next two games, stay focused, work hard and we’ll get the results that we want.”

Guatemala is aiming to qualify for its second FIFA U-20 World Cup and first since 2011.