CLEVELAND.- Guyana Manager Michael Johnson has made a lot of friends in the footballing world over the years. Prior to Saturday’s 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup clash with Panama, the former Premier League DF and Jamaica international spoke during Friday’s pre-game press conference about the respect his team has received from colleagues around the world over the past few days.
“It’s been really great listening to the world of football this week,” Johnson said. “Some of the comments from international managers who’ve reached out, Premier League coaches as well, it’s reminded me of all the positives we can take into this game with Panama.”
Guyana lost 4-0 to a heavily favored United States team on Tuesday night. They kept the score at 1-0 until early in the second half, with glimpses of quality throughout the first 45.
“A lot of the conversations I’ve had,” said Johnson, “these other managers talked a lot about the first hour, the good things they saw in our team. Hopefully as we move forward, we can take those positives into tomorrow night against Panama.”
Seated next to Johnson was Guyana MF Neil Danns, who plays his professional club soccer for Bury in the third division of English football.
“We’ve already taken huge steps to be here,” Danns said of his team. “And that’s the most important thing. We are here. This has never happened before. This is a learning curve for the lads. But we’ve got as much ambition as anyone and people are noticing. That’s what we’re here to do, to help Guyana be noticed.”
Danns and the rest of the Guyana squad know they will likely need a positive result to stay in contention for the knockout rounds in their first ever Gold Cup. Their match with Panama kicks off on Saturday in Cleveland at 5:30 ET.