… GFF president believes qualifying is realisticBy Rawle ToneyPRESIDENT of the Guyana Football Federation (GFF), Wayne Forde, believes that the Dr Ivan Joseph-led Women’s U-20 side have what it takes to go all the way, as Guyana prepare for CONCACAF Women’s U-20 World Cup Qualifiers in the Dominican Republic, where they will open against Nicaragua on February 23. Following their opening game on ‘Republic Day’, Lady Jags will suit up against Puerto Rico on February 25, and will close their Group D play against Mexico on February 27.Speaking to Chronicle Sport yesterday, Forde said the Guyanese women, who played undefeated during the preliminaries, are currently working hard behind the scenes and on the pitch to give a good account of themselves, and show that they belong among some of CONCACAF’s top-playing nations.Following confirmation from FIFA that Costa Rica and Panama will co-host the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, in August of 2020, and that CONCACAF has been awarded one additional slot (four in total), the Confederation announced changes to its World Cup Qualifying tournament, to be hosted in the Dominican Republic between February 22 and March 8, 2020.CONCACAF announced on Monday, that their Council had determined that Costa Rica and Panama, as host countries of the World Cup, will automatically qualify to the World Cup and will no longer participate in the 2020 CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship, meaning that the two remaining slots in the World Cup will be determined via the 2020 CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship.“We don’t plan on doing anything different that we’ve done when we played here. I know the girls are working hard and that we’re having some talent-spotting, but I think we have a good chance. Despite the quality of the opponents, I know the girls are going to work hard because of what’s at stakes – the World Cup,” Forde stated.Forde lamented that the team’s goal is to qualify for the FIFA U-20 World Cup, and added that realistically, it’s also a chance for the GFF to test their women’s programme against some of the top teams in the confederation.“I think this also gives us a chance to rub shoulders with some of the top teams in CONCACAF and will also tell us just how far we’ve come, where we want to go and how much harder we have to work to get there. We will take away as much as we can from this experience,” Forde noted.Forde also sees Guyana’s participation as a “major achievement for the country,” taking into consideration that not much emphasis was placed on women’s football at the level below the senior women’s – the Lady Jags.For the group stage of the 2020 CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship, to be played at the Felix Sanchez Stadium and Panamericano Stadium, in Santo Domingo and San Cristobal, respectively, Guyana (top-ranked team in qualifying Group A) and St Kitts and Nevis (top-ranked team in qualifying Group B) will be replacing Costa Rica and Panama for the group stage of the final championship.In Group C, the United States, Honduras, Dominican Republic and Cuba will go head-to-head, while Group E is set with Canada, Jamaica, Guatemala and El Salvador. Group F conprises Haiti, Trinidad & Tobago, St Kitts & Nevis and Cayman Islands.For the Round-of-16, Bermuda (third-place finishers in qualifying Group A) and Barbados (third-place finishers in qualifying Group B) will occupy the positions vacated by Guyana and St Kitts & Nevis.All knockout round matches (round of 16, quarterfinal, semifinal and final) will be played in a single match elimination format, with the finalists will qualify to the FIFA Women’s U-20 World Cup 2020.