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Club news

Moriah-Welsh on ‘perfect situation’ linking up with Guyana


AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Nathan Moriah-Welsh has been crossing boundaries in recent weeks, literally over the current international break as he’s joined up with the senior Guyana national side for the first time far afield in the Caribbean.

Before leaving the UK to meet up with the squad, the 19-year-old made the Cherries matchday squad for the first time in the Emirates FA Cup quarter-final with Southampton last weekend, as the London-born midfielder edges his way towards a first-team debut.

Moriah-Welsh joined AFC Bournemouth in the summer of 2018 after spells with Brentford and Reading, and was part of the Cherries under-18s side that made it to the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup in his first season on the south coast.

The teenager is now pushing for a debut on two fronts, and spoke to afcb.co.uk directly from the Dominican Republic after Guyana played Trinidad & Tobago in their first qualifying match for the 2022 World Cup on Thursday evening.

He started off by talking about how the opportunity to represent the country came about: “It was when the Bournemouth under-23s played QPR and one of their players was a Guyana international.

“He messaged me after the game to ask if I’d ever thought about playing for Guyana, which at the time I hadn’t – but he got me in touch with the head scout Faizal Khan who gave me more information.

“He told me about where the football federation was heading and what their vision was. I had two choices: Greneda on my father’s side or Guyana on my mother’s, and I ultimately chose Guyana.”

Moriah-Welsh visited Guyana as a child and got to know the country, with his grandparents currently in the South American nation – the only country in the continent to speak English as a first language – throughout the ongoing Covid-19 situation.

“I’ve been to Guyana when I was younger,” he said, “it’s a lovely place.

“My grandparents go on a four-to-six month holiday there every few years. Actually, they went at the start of 2020 and due to the pandemic they’ve had about a year or so out there as they can’t get back to England.”

The midfielder was first called up by Guyana late last year but was unable to travel, with a similar set of circumstances seeming likely before the nation’s two qualifiers over the current break were switched to neutral Dominican Republic, allowing the UK-based players to travel to the Caribbean and represent their side.

Moriah-Welsh continued: “I wasn’t originally allowed to go as the games were in Guyana which is a red zone and Bournemouth weren’t happy with me going to a red zone and having to quarantine.

“Then they got changed to the Dominican which suited everyone in England better. I was really happy when I heard they were being played here, it’s a beautiful warm country and the two things I like to do is play football and travel so it’s a perfect situation for me.

“This is actually my second call up, but my first official trip. My first was in November last year when we were due to play Suriname, but the pandemic stopped that.

“This time the team’s operations manager rang me and asked if I’d like to come out and represent Guyana which I agreed to very quickly.

“I think I’ve integrated into the squad well. There’s a mix of foreign-based players and Guyana-based players who were born in Guyana.

“It feels like a real family, I understand the accent of the Guyana-born lads and I’ve gelled with most of them over the past few days.

“I know a few of the foreign-based players, I flew later than the squad due to being involved in the FA Cup and I travelled with Terence Vancooten who plays for Stevenage. He’s a very good ball-playing centre-back. He’s helped me get settled in well.

“The training hasn’t been too different to at Bournemouth – the only thing different is the heat! I’m used to training at a high intensity, but the heat took me by surprise slightly. But everyone seems sharp and there’s a real eagerness to push each other in training.”

The first match of the double header didn’t go to plan, however, the side losing 3-0 to neighbours Trinidad, with Moriah-Welsh giving his view from the sidelines as he made the squad but didn’t get on for his debut.

“It was a really disappointing game from a team perspective,” he said. “It was a derby, a matter of national pride and we let the nation down.”

“It’s something we’ll learn from and when we get the chance to play Trinidad again I’m sure we’ll give them a bit.

“On a personal level it was good to hear the national anthem and stand with my brothers as we prepared to play our rivals.

“I would’ve liked to get on but there’s plenty of other opportunities and I have faith in the manager as he’s explained that myself and a batch of Guyanese players are the future and we have to be patient.”

The focus for the squad now switches to Tuesday’s match with Bahamas and, for Moriah-Welsh, a chance to show his team-mates and his country what he can do if given the chance to get minutes.

He said: “Hopefully I’ll continue to train well and apply myself in the right way before then and hopefully get a chance to play.”

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