Head coach Ivan Sopegno (pictured) led Guatemala to a runner-up finish in last year's Central American Cup, but the team couldn't progress past the group stage of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup. (Photo: Mexsport)
GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala – The last few weeks have not been overly kind to Guatemala.
The Central American runner-up squeezed past Bermuda, 1-0 on aggregate, to gain passage into the third round of qualifying for the next FIFA World Cup.
Then, the Chapines’ 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup campaign ended on Wednesday, after a 1-0 loss to Cuba left them in last place in Group C with a 0W-1D-2L record.
On Thursday, head coach Ivan Sopegno met with reporters upon the team’s return to Guatemala City and reiterated his commitment to the World Cup qualifying cause.
“We did not have the appearance we wanted,” said Sopegno. “In the most pressing moments, we never took that quality step. We’re bothered at being last [in the group]. We are going to let a few days pass to reflect.
“I am not talking about or thinking about resigning. When I feel pressured, I will know what to do. I still have arguments for being able to fight for it. I committed myself in trying to take Guatemala to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. You can to take conclusions on we must do to improve.”
Following a 3-1 loss to Trinidad & Tobago in its Gold Cup opener, Guatemala turned in a tremendous effort to earn a scoreless draw with six-time champion Mexico. That display, though, was followed by a performance against Cuba that surprised Sopegno.
“I hoped that the boys would play a great match like the Mexico one, but that never happened,” remarked the 51-year-old Argentinean. “The toll was a lot. We made mistakes and we were unable to score, which is when our lack of confidence appeared. The problems must be down in some instances to individuals, although in others, yes, there were strategy errors. For example, a lack of precision.
“We had a brilliant match against Mexico and against Cuba we made only two forced changes -- Carlos Mejía for Moisés Hernández and Marco Pappa for José Contreras – and everything went down.”
Although Guatemala did not qualify for the 2013 Gold Cup, it did reach in the quarterfinals two years earlier, dropping a narrow 2-1 decision to eventual-champion Mexico.