Sat, Dec

Shabazz worried over team’s complacency.

Coach admits half-time rant spurred on T&T women footballers…

T&T women’s football team coach Jamaal Shabazz admitted using a harsh approach towards his squad, during the half-time interval, to spur them towards a convincing 8-1 win over Grenada, at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, on Friday evening.

Action was in Group E of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Women’s Challenge Series.

The scores were locked at 1-1 at the midway point of the match, with Karyn Forbes scoring from a corner in the 12th minute, while Kristal Julien equalised four minutes later.

However, T&T went on a goal-spree in the second half, courtesy substitute striker Aaliyah Prince (66th, 79th and 84th), another reserve Natasha St Louis (46th and 69th), US-born midfielder Liana Hinds (63rd) and Forbes (90th).

The mild-mannered and soft-spoken Shabazz admitted in a post-game interview, “It’s unfortunate that the coach have got to change his behaviour at half-time. I never get angry in the game but, in so many years, I can’t remember getting so angry in a half-time discussion.”

Asked what he said in the dressing room, Shabazz replied, “I thought we were playing for the likes and not playing for the love, to take a thing out of young (Chronixx) song. We were not understanding that we needed to play football.”

The former T&T and Guyana men’s coach continued, “We were expecting to just show up on the pitch and those days are gone. Fifteen years ago, we would just show up against Grenada and we don’t have to play. Some players are living in that era, in that mindset. We’ve got to work hard and play.”

Unlike their second-half display against Suriname on Wednesday, when they missed a host of chances, T&T capitalised on a number of opportunities in the latter stages of Friday’s match.

“You can see that if we play to our potential, at least we’ll be five goals ahead of these teams,” said Shabazz. “The challenge is to get us to play. We got that in the second half. When we do this, it gives opportunities for the younger ones.”

Shabazz acknowledged that he was impressed with the performances of Prince and fellow T&T Under-20 player, midfielder Shenieka Paul.

This tournament serves as preparation for the start of the CONCACAF Championship and 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifiers in May.

And Shabazz stressed that the team’s performance will need to seriously improve for T&T to have a chance of booking a place in the World Cup in France.

“We’ve always have got to think about CONCACAF,” said the veteran coach. “In 2014 we were one point from the World Cup. If we want to talk about that, we must not be satisfied with this performance. The result (is) okay but the performance (is) far from what is required to go to the next level.”

T&T will conclude their Women’s Challenge Series Group E participation today against Guyana, at Couva.

“It’s an important game for us,” said Shabazz. “I think Guyana (are) the most organised of the three teams that we have to play. We want to take it seriously again. It’s not just the result, it’s trying to see how we can get, into the game, some of the things that we’ve worked on in practice. We want our country to be proud, we want to remove the spirit of negativity that pervades (throughout).”