By Rawle Toney
Jamaal Shabazz, Head Coach of Guyana’s National Football Team, The Golden Jaguars, said that he’s comfortable with the squad selected to commence participation, in the 2016/2017 Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Caribbean Cup.
The Golden Jaguars will kick off their Group 5 campaign against Anguilla at the Guyana National Stadium on Tuesday March 22 and would later travel to the US Island of Puerto Rico for their second match on March 29.
Shabazz called eight overseas-based players – Akel Clarke (Trinidad and Tobago), Neil Danns (England), Samuel Cox (England), Walter Moore (Finland), Brandon Beresford (U.S.A), Christopher Nurse (Puerto Rico), Marcel Barrington (England) and Anthony Whyte (Canada).
Alex Murray (Alpha United FC), King Austin (Alpha United FC), Joshua Browne (Alpha United FC), Kester Jacobs (Slingerz FC), Eon Alleyne (Fruta Conquerors FC), Vurlon Mills (Slingerz FC), Gregory Richardson (Pele FC), Devon Millington (Slingerz FC), Daniel Wilson (Alpha United FC), Dwight Peters (Alpha United FC), Quincy Adams (Slingerz FC), Clive Nobrega (Slingerz FC), Les Charles Critchlow (Slingerz FC), Tichard Joseph (Slingerz FC) Trayon Bobb (Slingerz FC), Konata Manning (Pele FC), and Delon Lanferman (Alpha United FC) are the other players, all based locally.
However, the exclusion of Trinidad and Tobago-based Sheldon Holder and Pernel Schultz, along with Alpha United defender Colin Nelson and UK-based Matthew Briggs, have caused many to voice their concern about the strength of the Golden Jaguars.
“The forwards we selected in the squad right now Mills, Richardson, Millington and Barrington; we feel are a good combination of pace and skill” Shabazz said in an exclusive interview, while adding the in the case of Schultz, “they are ahead of him”.
“Colin Nelson is recovering from a hamstring injury and played his first game (70 minutes) after two weeks” Shabazz highlighted, adding “We prefer give him time to heal and fully recover”.
There was much controversy surrounding Briggs, the 25-year-old left-back, who plays with Colchester United in England.
Many fell in love with the defender based on his style of play seen during his Golden Jaguars debut against Grenada, where he helped Guyana to secure a 2 – 0 win over the men from the Spice Isles.
“Briggs is one of the best players I have ever worked it. He is unavailable for these matches but the team is so competitive I think we have one or two replacements for each position,” said Shabazz.
Looking ahead to the tournament that brought about a love-hate relationship with Shabazz and some of the most die-hard Golden Jaguars fans, the Trinidadian highlight that the “there is respect for Guyana in CFU. But the problem is, over the years, constant administrative turmoil takes away our focus from the football of the field”
“This CFU is important for Guyana to stabilize its name as an emerging force in the Caribbean’s future. I am so excited about this team that I have applied for my Guyana passport and trying to lose 20 pounds to see if I can make the team. The challenge is getting cohesion and everyone to pull in one direction. If we can achieve this the fans will be in for a good ride” Shabazz said.