–Shabazz to Jaguars as Nations League resumes

…Garrett confident of Jags’ success

By Jemima Holmes

Head Coach Jamaal Shabazz has a chat with his local troops

Last June, two heavy losses to Haiti at home and away, in the first window of the CONCACAF Nations League 2022-2023, put a significant dent in the Guyana senior men’s national football team’s hopes of going to this year’s CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament.
However, a second-place finish in their group would help them – Golden Jaguars – get a foot in the door, with qualification to the tournament’s preliminary round. On this premise, Head Coach of the Golden Jaguars, Jamaal Shabazz, has emphasised the importance of the team getting positive results.

Golden Jaguars Head Coach, Jamaal Shabazz

“Every game presents its own new challenges, its own formula, its own strategy and tactics to win. Bermuda is playing home now; we expect them to be a lot more offensive. We’ve got to be a lot more compact defensively, and we’re going with a point and at least try to maintain our point,” Head Coach Jamaal Shabazz told Guyana Times Sport exclusively.
He went on to emphasise, “We beat them here 2-1. It was a close game, so now we go there understanding fully that we need to get results. Even though we play away from home and we want to be cautious and at times conservative, there will be moments we will have to take risks to get the result.”
With just about 5 days of preparation since the Jaguars touched down in Bermuda on Sunday last, the Head Coach detailed the way in which he intended to maximise the Jaguars’ training time. He
explained, “The most difficult job in coaching an international team in football today is having to put together the national team in 5 days; and it’s a necessary phenomenon, because players play in clubs all over the world, and you want your best players to play for the national team.

eremy Garrett (on ball) has expressed confidence in the Golden Jaguars’ ability to pick up 6 points

“So, what we do with the local-based players in trying to make them a cohesive unit, we prepare the team in parts. The roles and functions that they have to play in the team we emphasise that in the training a lot. With only 10 players based in Guyana, we let them, in the days coming up to the matches, play the roles and drill them.
“The overseas players, we scout them. It’s so important for me to go and look at them in their own environment, and see what they’re doing in their club. And we try to keep them in positions and roles as close to what they do in their club as possible.
“We can’t reinvent the wheel, because we only have five days. So, it’s really just organizing the team and managing the process,” Shabazz reasoned.
Meanwhile, the players’ perspective was presented by defender Jeremy Garrett, who expressed sheer confidence in his and his teammates’ ability to pick up 6 points.
Garrett said, “We believe that football is on the day; and with the work that we were putting in, we believe that once we go out there and execute what the coach is asking for, there’s no way that we cannot or will not be successful.
“I think that, heading into these two games, there is a big task on us but there is no pressure. As Maradona says, ‘pressure is for the man that has 13 children and no job; pressure is not in football’. So, we just want to go out there, do our best, and try as best as possible to come out successful.”
The Golden Jaguars’ battle against Bermuda will begin at 14:00hrs today, Saturday March 25. Thereafter, the team would head to Barbados for their final game against Montserrat, on March 28 at 17:00hrs.