Guyana’s History Created By The Magic Of Ex-Reggae Boy
Managerial path turns to Gold Cup for Johnson
Michael Johnson, a former Jamaican international, is returning to the CONCACAF Gold Cup as head coach of Guyana next month.
The 45-year-old has successfully guided minnows Guyana to their Gold Cup debut, where they will tackle USA, Panama and Trinidad & Tobago in the group games.
Johnson, who was in Jamaica’s squad at the 2000 Gold Cup and made 13 appearances for the Reggae Boyz between 1999 and 2003, could face former team-mate Theodore Whitmore – the Jamaica head coach – should both teams progress in this year’s prestigious tournament.
The Gold Cup, which starts on 15 June with the final played on 7 July, will primarily be hosted in the United States with a pair of games played in both Costa Rica and Jamaica.
Johnson, appointed Guyana head coach last year as the standout candidate from 200 applicants, has overseen a meteoric rise by the national side.
Guyana’s Golden Jaguars did not play a game between November 2012 and September 2014, and host games at Providence Stadium – the nation’s cricket stadium that weaned local legend and former West Indies captain Clive Lloyd.
And with a population of just 800,000 and no professional football league in the South American country, potential players are forced to ply their trade overseas.
So Johnson, who also works as ambassador for English Football League Championship outfit Derby County, is forced to search for players. These tend to play in the lower leagues in England, or in the North American MLS.
Guyana, although geographically squeezed between Brazil, Suriname and Venezuela in South America belongs to the North and Central American region in footballing terms.
Johnson kicked off his international managerial career with less than 1,000 spectators, yet there were 5,000 fans present for their historic 2-1 triumph over Belize in March that secured their first appearance at a major tournament.
And because of Johnson’s success at the helm, FIFA have agreed to fund a 3G facility in Guyana that will be used by all the national teams and age groups.
Having begun his career at 18 with Notts County, the world’s oldest professional football club, Johnson played just under 700 games in England as a solid defender with County, Birmingham City, Derby and Sheffield Wednesday
He was unbeaten as joint manager at County in two games before returning to his role as youth team manager. And since then he obtained plenty of coaching qualifications because landing a management role became extremely tricky until he signed for Guyana.
Not only have Guyana taken giant steps forward but so has Johnson, whose nickname on the pitch was ‘Magic’.
He has definitely put a spell on the nation’s footballers, whose tricks have fooled other teams into defeat and entertained the fans with their stellar performances.
Guyana have football fever going into the Gold Cup, with their goal will be aiming to progress to the knockout stages if former Reggae Boy Johnson can sprinkle some more of his magic as manager.
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