AS the Golden Jaguars, the country’s senior men’s national football team, continue preparation ahead of their important March 26 and 31 encounters against Barbados, head coach Márcio Máximo, is touting a youthful team, changed mentality and an emphasis on long-term succession development as the key areas of focus. In a recent interview, the Brazilian coach pointed out that is was very important for him to not only reduce the average age of the senior team but also change the mentality of the players to one that is competitive, displays good commitment, professionalism and with a desire to proudly play in the senior national team.Máximo said there are currently three or four experienced Guyana-based players over 28 years old among those who are engaged in daily training sessions but to realize sustainability of the team, age and desire for personal and team success are key for development. He added that “of course their (older players) experience is very important for our group but we also need to refresh the team, put new ideas and players who have ambition to play in the development leagues, pursue international clubs and academies, help the local clubs to improve…if we don’t have the continuation of the senior team, we’ll lose the group again.” “We have been able to recover some players (22 – 23 years old) who had lost interest due to the absence of a senior team programme. Now, they have the option to continue if they are selected, of course. We now have a pool of 60 players,” the usually candid coach revealed. Máximo announced recently that 12 players from the National U-20 team, which wrapped up their CONCACAF U-20 Championship qualifiers campaign on Sunday, will be integrated into the senior team following their return from Nicaragua.Coach Máximo sees the step as “a good opportunity for the players to keep their ambitions to play at a professional level, have a chance to be attached to international academies, if age permits, and we will endeavor to provide the fuel for them to achieve their highest goal.” Guyana is aiming to make their second appearance at the CONCACAF Gold Cup, but, in order for Máximo and his men to reach the 2021 CONCACAF showpiece, the Golden Jaguars will have to go through regional rivals, Barbados, in a home and away fixture.The first match of the two-round qualifier is scheduled for Barbados on March 24 at 19:00hrs, while Guyana will play host to the Bajans on March 31 at the National Track and Field Centre at 20:00hrs.