MIAMI, Florida – For the people of Guatemala, there is nothing quite like supporting the Guatemalan National Team.
The Chapines have never been to a FIFA World Cup, but Head Coach Amarini Villatoro will be looking to change that and bring joy to the Guatemalan people by guiding his team to a series of strong performances to start Concacaf World Cup Qualifying for Qatar 2022.
“I think for many years the National Team has been indebted to the Guatemalan people. At the Concacaf level, Guatemala is one of the most football-crazed countries. Football is a religion, it is a passion and the results have come up short against that passion and emotion, that dedication that the Guatemalan people have with their national team. We hope this time to repay them with our performances for that love that the Guatemalan people have toward their national team,” said Villatoro in an exclusive interview with Concacaf.com following Wednesday’s WCQ Draw.
Guatemala were drawn into Group C, where they will square off against top-seed Curacao, plus Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Cuba and British Virgin Islands. For Villatoro, the group finale against Curacao in November will be decisive.
“From all the studying that we did of the top-seeded teams, we saw Curacao as one of the strongest. It is a generation of players who play in Europe. They play in the Netherlands, England, Germany and other European teams. In the last several years, they have had good results against Central American teams, against North American teams, having good games and good performances. They are the team to beat in the group. If we want to get past this round, we have to beat all of the teams, but the match and the scoreline between Curacao and Guatemala will be key,” said Villatoro.
While Villatoro sees Curacao as the toughest team in the group, he recognizes that none of their Group C opponents will be an easy task.
“Nowadays in football there are no easy opponents, all of the national teams, especially in a qualifier, give their all. A World Cup Qualifier is so different than a friendly match, for what the player feels and experiences. That’s what is so wonderful about football. Nothing is written, anything can happen. We respect all of the teams in the group, we will plan to go match by match. We have Cuba first, which won’t be easy. It’s our first game and it opens this qualifying group. We hope to do well and get a positive result at home,” said Villatoro.
Villatoro was named Head Coach of Guatemala in March 2019 and led the Chapines to a sparkling 4W-0D-0L record in League C of the 2019-20 Concacaf Nations League, while outscoring opponents 25-0.
Villatoro is relying on a new generation of Guatemalan players that he hopes will be part of the National Team set-up not just in qualifying for Qatar 2022, but in future cycles.
“This is a generation that badly wants to do things well. It’s a young national team. There are two or three experienced players that are older than 30, so it’s a national team that has an average age of 23 or 24. The objective of this process as well is to establish a base not just for this qualifying cycle, but for what comes after. It’s important for Guatemala to have a strong spine and important players for a long time. That is the objective that we as a coaching staff and the Federation is looking for: A base of players that can stay with the national team that forms their talent and identity for a long time,” said Villatoro.
Villatoro is hopeful that Guatemala can reach the Second Round of Concacaf WCQ, and he knows that it will not happen is his team is unable to develop and mature during this process.
“We have to believe in the talent that we have and have a conviction in what we can achieve. We want to be a surprise. We are aware that the favorite in our group is Curacao, but first we can’t underestimate the other opponents and not undervalue what we can do as a national team, compete in a good manner and try to give a surprise. We’re going step by step. Getting past this group would be a great way to fill our fans and the team with confidence. We are a national team that has to continue maturing, achieve positive results and compete. This format permits us to play four games and it is important for this new generation to continue maturing and know what is a World Cup qualifier,” concluded Villatoro.