“We want to get a good result and will do our best to make Guyana proud” – Shabazz
“Teenage winger Trayon Bobb to start; Charles Pollard returns to starting XI”
San Salvador, El Salvador - Guyana’s Golden Jaguars and El Salvador ranked 122nd and 64th in the FIFA world rankings respectively, lock horns in the first game of a crucial group B home/away, match day three encounter, of the North, Central American and Caribbean Zone, third round 2014 World Cup qualifiers, at the Estadio Cuscatlan San Salvador, this evening from 7:30 pm (9:30pm Guyana time).
Both teams currently languish at the bottom of the group, behind CONCACAF powerhouses Mexico and Costa Rica who will be facing off in simultaneous double header as well.
Therefore this game carries much importance for the Jaguars as they seek to move into a qualification place in the group at the end of this round.
Especially if the proposed hypothetical scenario plays out , in which Costa Rica lose both their matches against Mexico; and Guyana can conjure up a pair of wins or a win and a draw versus El Salvador, which would conceivably put them back into second place in the group.
Similarly for El Salvador who are affectionately known as “La Selecta” as they continue their goal to reach the third FIFA World Cup in its countries history, after previously qualifying for the Mexico 1970 and Spain 1982 tournaments.
Speaking from El Salvador, National coach Jamaal Shabazz spoke about the make-up of team he has selected to do battle, the mood in the camp and further encouragement to the Guyanese public to continue to rally behind the team.
“We have gone for an interesting blend of youth and experience, with recalls for veteran defender Charles Pollard and goalkeeper Richard Reynolds.
While 19-year old left-winger Trayon Bobb and newly found 20 year old United States born midfielder Nick Millington into the starting line-up. We are focussing on starting the players who are in season and playing week in week out, since obviously they will have a better match fitness, explained Shabazz.
He continued: “The mood in the camp is great and we are going in ambitious but very aware that we need a big performance if we are to take points from El Salvador”.
Popular Local striker Anthony “Awo” Abrams is out with an injury. He is second major injury blow to the Jaguars following that of senior defender Leon Cort who caught his injury on duty for his English Championship side, Charlton Athletic, which is why he was not selected initially in the final squad.
Due to Abrams absence, this is the reason coach Shabazz has decided to wait until the very last moment to announce which of Carl Cort, Vurlon Mills or Shawn Beveney will partner Gregory Richardson in attack.
While the Guyanese public home and abroad has been disappointed with the Jaguars losing start away to Mexico and home to Costa Rica, Shabazz is not fazed.
“We must not be a fickle people like a nation with a glass jaw. Last year this time the Jaguars were heroes and now because we are struggling to battle on this higher level, the people have become weak. We must be stronger than that and must support our team, get behind them and send a good vibes”, urged Shabazz.
Skipper Chris Nurse is back to full fitness and the hard working right-winger Ricky Shakes is also in the line-up. Shabazz has also chosen to start veteran Charles Pollard ahead of the 19 year old Colin Nelson as a partner for Sweden based, Canadian born defender Jamaal Smith. Versatile defender John “JP” Rodrigues and Walter Moore will hold down the wing back positions.
“As a team we are enjoying this challenge and living the moment. We want to get a good result in El Salvador and will do our best to make Guyana proud”, promised Shabazz.
National Communications Network (NCN) will be broadcasting the game live from 9:30, as the Jaguars step on to the largest arena in Central America, which is commonly referred to as La Catedral del Espectaculo.