Sat, Feb

Guyana Head Coach Jamaal Shabazz (right) and his technical staff on the sidelines during a Courts Caribbean Classic match against Trinidad and Tobago at Hasely Crawford Stadium on March 29th 2022.

“Here we go again,” stated Trinidadian Jamaal Shabazz, Guyana’s men’s national team head-coach.

“Trinidad never learns. They had a chance to win they group and avoid meeting Guyana. They refuse to do that and now look at what they put themselves in,” Shabazz quipped.

Shabazz commented after Concacaf on Friday named the grouping for the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup qualifying round to take place in the United States between June 16-20. In round one of the qualifiers, the six highest-ranked teams comprising Trinidad and Tobago, Martinique, Curaçao, French Guiana, Suriname and Guyana will be drawn against one of the six lowest-ranked teams, namely Guadeloupe, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Grenada, Puerto Rico and Sint Maarten.

Should the Soca Warriors successfully navigate the opening qualifying round, they will face the winner of match up between Guyana and one of the six lower-ranked teams. Trinidad & Tobago will know its opening preliminary round opponent after the live draw, scheduled to take place on Friday, April 14, 2023, at SoFi Stadium, in Inglewood, California. The 17th edition of the Gold Cup is scheduled to take place between June 16 - July 16, 2023 with the final taking place at SoFi Stadium.

“Jokes aside, before thinking of meeting Trinidad & Tobago, both countries have to show they can get past their first opponent,” Shabazz stated.

“That will be the first thing,” Shabazz emphasised.”It will be presumptuous about meeting each other unless both countries prepare properly.”

Trinidad and Tobago have lost just two of 24 meeting with Guyana. However, competition in recent year have been close and resulted in three 1-1 draws and a 3-0 win in 2022 for T&T in World Cup qualifying. Guyana knocked T&T out of 2011 FIFA World Cup qualifying with a 2-1 win in George town, with Shabazz in charge for the first of his three Guyana stints. The team also drew 1-1 at the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup.

The last meeting in 2022 marked Shabazz’s first match since return as Guyanese head-coach for a third time and saw the Guyanese drawing a friendly international 1-1 in Port of Spain just over a year ago on March 29, 2022, when it took Levi Garcia’s 90th minute goal to rescue a point for the Soca Warriors in the Courts Classic series, which also involved Barbados.

Shabazz told Trinidad Express that he believes that his Guyana team is stronger now, as shown by the 2-0 Concacaf Nations League win away to Bermuda, which qualified the Golden Jaguars for the Gold Cup qualifiers. Guyana also recruited heavily from eligible England-born players with Guyanese heritage.

A self-proclaimed Guyanese, Shabazz used Guyana’s new found resources to bring in a fitness coach, South African Riedoh Berdien, UK match analyst Liam Baddock), Brazilian goalkeeper coach Emmerson Marinho and Norway based Duane Saunders. According to a report with Kaiteur News, they joined the regular staff which included long standing Rawle Adams, Wayne Dover, Trevor Burnett along with Nzinga Maxwell and local physio Jana Edghill.

“This is one of the most exciting bunches that we have worked,” Shabazz told Trinidad Express, “We were able to bring in five new players that have really enhanced the squad. Winning 2-0 in Bermuda was not an easy feat.”

Shabazz also believes that his team can also successfully transition through the Gold Cup preliminary qualification rounds.

“With the right preparation, I think of we have as good a chance as any,” Shabazz said.

SOURCE: T&T Express