Compact in defence and confident in attack, Shabazz outlines plan for success
By Akeem Greene in Trinidad
Golden Jaguars Head Coach Jamaal Shabazz is a man of faith.
Many times he has told stories of the underdogs toppling the proverbial giants to enforce his deep belief that anything is possible.
For the Golden Jaguars at the Concacaf Nations League, Shabazz has expressed similar sentiments, but he is cognisant it all boils down to what transpires on the field.
A lot still depends on tactics, players’ game awareness, and more often than not in sport, the luck of the draw.
It is for this reason that after 11 days of preparation in Trinidad and Tobago for their first match on June 4 against Montserrat in the Dominican Republic, Shabazz is firm the Jaguars need to adopt a workman style of play.
The idea is to get enough bodies behind the ball and produce counterattacks.
“We have prepared to build the ball out, bringing it out at the back and trying to play with confidence, trying to be compact in defence, and trying to give that total effect to regain possession when we lose it, and so far the guys are responding to it,” the Head Coach stated in a recent interview with News Room Sport at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva.
“I think we have a level of fitness that will allow us to play like how we prepared and really is a matter on game day, having that courage and confidence to execute,” the Trinidadian native, who is in the fourth installment as Jaguars’ coach, further related.
They won both their training matches against Trinidad and Tobago Under-20 and St. Lucia.
Given most club leagues worldwide end in April-May, Jaguars are fortunate to have most of their players available for a prolonged period of the encampment, which Shabazz explained has allowed the players to bond better and truly trust and understand each other’s role on and off the field.
The coach did disclose that he has narrowed down the squad for Montserrat to 24, noting that promising mid-fielder, Curtez Kellman who is currently based in the United States of America, was not included, given the “strength of the current midfield options.”
He did say when they return to Guyana for matches against Bermuda (June 7) and Haiti (June 11) at the National Track and Field Centre, Leonora, he will add some players to the squad.
12th man support
Rising star, Omari Glasgow, who recently signed with Chicago Fire FC II in the MLS Next Pro, is calling on all Guyanese to come out in their numbers for those two key home matches.
The man from Beterverwagting, East Coast Demerara, believes given the quality of their opponents and the need for Jaguars to get favourable results, it is imperative they get the morale boost from the crowd.
For Guyana, they are currently placed 174th by FIFA and 21st in Concacaf, and it is only Montserrat at 178th and 28th, behind the South American nation, but they have a squad built on players based in the United Kingdom.
The ultimate aim of the Golden Jaguars is to qualify for another Gold Cup finals, and a direct spot will come if they top their group.
Furthermore, there is another chance if they finish second place in the group and then contest the Gold Cup preliminaries.
But based on rankings it means Golden Jaguars will have to slay higher-ranked opponents if they are to replicate the journey to a maiden Gold Cup spot in 2019.
Glasgow would have played at the Gold Cup preliminaries where Guyana was booted after a 0-4 thumping by Guatemala last year, and this time, he wants to see Guyana return to the Gold Cup finals.