By Rawle Toney
As Guyana prepares to face Puerto Rico tomorrow (March 29) in their final CFU Caribbean Cup Group 5 match, the Golden Jaguars will have to be without Head Coach Jamaal Shabazz.
Shabazz faces strict visa and travel restraints by the United States Government following his alleged involvement in the famous 1990 attempted coup d’état by the Jamaat al Muslimeen in his native Trinidad and Tobago. Shabazz’s Assistant Wayne ‘Wiggy’ Dover will serve as head Coach for Guyana’s all-important encounter with Puerto Rico at the Juan Ramón Loubriel Stadium, Bayamon.
This is not the first time that Shabazz will miss a Golden Jaguars game while being at the helm. The 52-year-old watched Guyana’s return match against Mexico in 2012 which was played at the BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston Texas, from ‘online’, having not being able to get permission from US authorities enter the country.
Though Shabazz has never been convicted for his alleged involvement, the Trinidadian, who was detained for 53 days at the Miami Detention Centre, is still Guyana’s most successful Head Coach. Shabazz served as the Head Coach of the Golden Jaguars from 2005–08 with very positive results, which included 11 consecutive wins in 2006. He later returned to take charge of Guyana in August 2011.
He subsequently led the Golden Jaguars to the third round of qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, which marked the furthest the national team had advanced in its history.
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) are the seven overseas-based players in Head Coach Jamaal Shabazz’s 18-man squad.
Alex Murray, Clive Nobrega, Dwight Peters, King Solomon Austin, Eon Alleyne, Vurlon Mills, Gregory Richardson, Devon Millington, Quincy Adams, Tischard Joseph and Quincy Adams are the other members of the Golden Jaguars team.
This will be the second meeting between Guyana and the United States territory, with the first being in 1993 Caribbean Cup which was then named the ‘Shell Cup’. Guyana went down 2 – 0 at the Georgetown Cricket Club (GCC) Ground against Puerto Rico who secured the win with goals from Brian Conlon and Danny Mueller.