Head Coach of Golden Jaguars Jamaal Shabazz revealed that the majority of the starting lineup for tonight’s game against Anguilla will come from the Stag Elite League.
The two teams will meet in the opening match of Group 5 in the Scotiabank Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Caribbean Cup, from 19:00 hours at the Guyana National Stadium.
Anguilla is ranked 204 in the world by FIFA, as compared to Guyana who recently moved up to 156. The last time they played, 1998, Guyana won 14 – 0, which to date, is the largest margin of defeat the Anguillans has ever suffered.
Speaking at a media briefing at the 704 Sports Bar, Shabazz stated that, “at least 63.6% of the starting team will be players out of the Stag Elite League and, at most, it could be 82%.”
Shabazz introduced a new paradigm to the management of the team – co-coach and co-captain, which is Wayne Dover, formerly known as the Assistant Coach and the two captains – Christopher Nurse and Gregory Richardson respectively.
Paying tribute to the coaches in the Elite League, Shabazz said “this speaks volumes of the work that had been done by the local coaches and players and the league. It is so different when you have the league and the players are playing week in and week out… now, the players come in at a level comparable to players who come in from overseas.”
In response to how challenging the job of arriving at the final squad was, Shabazz said, “We’ve set specific criteria in terms of players playing, players active as opposed to who (are) in pre- season, whether a player (is) on the bench with his club or whether he’s starting, how much minutes he’s playing, his form, the ability to conform to tactics, the ability to integrate into the group off the field… (even though) we have set these criteria, that has not eased enough how difficult it is.
In brief remarks, Dover also paid tribute to the Stag Elite League for a competitive squad and said with the inclusion of the overseas-based players, the fans are in “for a moment of greatness”. “We want the fans to know that tomorrow’s game is more about us qualifying and giving them the results that are needed for them to be happy…,” Dover said.
In terms of preparation, Nurse said the Golden Jaguars is taking the game very seriously and cautioned the public not to underestimate the Anguilla team. “…we’re doing the right things in training and making sure tomorrow night we go out and give it our best shot…we have a point to prove tomorrow in the game”. He encouraged the fans to support the team.”
Richardson recounted the team’s hard training, and thanked Shabazz for composing a well rounded team, while urging fans to support the Golden Jaguars.
“We’re hungry; we’re hungry because we want to succeed” Shabazz told the gathering of reporters at yesterday’s Press Conference.
He added “We know we have the potential and the talent; we want to be in the (CONCACAF) Gold Cup because we think we have some of the best players in CONCACAF. This is very important to us and this first game against Anguilla; our life depends on it, our careers depend on it because we want to go to the next level and this is so important to us that we have to do everything to get the result.”
Meanwhile, Head Coach of the Anguilla National Team, Leon Jeffers said his team is young but positive and “the guys have worked hard and this will be a good, good competition for us. All the hard work they put in…we get out of it.”
Captain Kevin Hawley also said the Anguilla team is a young team with an average age of 22-23 years and looking forward to doing their best.
While they haven’t done much research of the Golden Jaguars they’re confident; “we’re confident in our abilities; confident that we can compete against Guyana and expect a good result. We looking forward to doing our best for our country, our families, ourselves and make the most of this opportunity”.
The second match will be played against Puerto Rico in Puerto Rico on March 29, 2016. Anguilla will play Puerto Rico on March 26 at the Raymond E, Guishard Technical Centre, Anguilla.