Colombia 2011 is Guatemala's maiden FIFA tournament.
FIFA U20 World Cup
29 July - 20 August 2011
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Samuel Philip Steinbock
With the exception of futsal tournaments, Colombia 2011 is the first FIFA competition Guatemala has qualified for.
Never before have Guatemala been as happy with a third-place finish as that achieved with their defeat of Panama in April’s CONCACAF qualifying tournament on home soil.
They set themselves a target of qualifying for the Under-20 World Cup but got off to a difficult start, losing 3-1 to Hondorus they then managed to bounce back with a 2-0 win against Jamaica. This set up a quarter-final with USA.
With a place in Colombia up for grabs, host nation Guatemala won the match 2-1, sparking joyous scenes of celebration at the Estadio Mateo Flores in Guatemala City. However, they were unable to win the tournament as they went out in the semi-finals to Costa Rica, 2-1. They did manage to finish third though, beating Panama on penalties 7-6.
Whilst Guatemala have already achieved their goals by just qualifying and will see anything else as a bonus, they will nonetheless head into the FIFA U-20 World Cup intent on putting on a good performance. The squad have in Almeida a vastly experienced coach who will doubtless prepare them well for the challenges ahead.
With balance throughout the side, the Central Americans are capable of defending resolutely when the need arises, and can get forward quickly to exploit spaces with their measured passing. "We’ll be giving it everything we’ve got. Our goal is obviously to win and bring some happiness to a lot of people," said the coach after securing qualification.