– leave today for Guadeloupe, Martinique friendlies
By Rawle Welch
The Guyana Football Federation (GFF) seems to be pulling out all the stops to give the national team ‘Golden Jaguars’ all the arsenal they need to surprise their more illustrious opponents Mexico and Costa Rica who’re among the three teams they have to face in the third round of the World Cup qualifiers with the other one being El Salvador.
During a press briefing that was conducted at the Federation’s Head Office in Section ‘K’ Campbellville yesterday, Technical Director Jamal Shabazz, who attended the meeting along with Acting President Franklin Wilson and Director of Marketing for the GFF Faizal Khan, briefed the media about the upcoming international friendlies against Guadeloupe and Martinique which starts tomorrow and end on May 6 in the respective territories.
Shabazz, who also had the opportunity recently to watch Costa Rica in a friendly against Honduras opened the session by talking about what he witnessed during the visit which saw an under strength Costa Rica come from a goal down to draw with the Hondurans.
The TD said in his opinion, it was the home support (12th man) who flocked the venue to rally their Costa Rica national side that made the difference in their performance in the second period.
“What I saw there had nothing to do with on-field play, but more to do with the 12th man, (the home support) which I feel will be critical in our matches home against opponents such as Mexico and Costa Rica,” Shabazz said.
He added that after the fans arrived in their numbers, what he saw was a total transformation of the national side even though they were playing at around 75% of their usual strength.
The TD urged all Guyana to come to the National Stadium to rally the ‘Jaguars’ in their home matches, adding that it will be a moment in history for Guyana and could serve as the catalyst to bring everyone together.
He referred to instances in the past where the people connected with the team and it brought positive results and he called for a similar response for their upcoming sojourn in the qualifiers.
The ‘Jaguars’ leaves today to take on Martinique and Guadeloupe in crucial friendlies, but according to the TD, the team will comprise mostly players from the Under-23 squad due to the unavailability of the first string players who’ve not been able to secure release from their respective clubs overseas.
Guadeloupe is a formidable opponent according to Shabazz, having qualified for the last two CONCACAF Gold Cup qualifiers so players will have the opportunity too impress with the aim of perhaps getting selection to the squad that will face the Central America giants in Mexico and Costa Rica.
He informed that the locally-based players have an excellent opportunity to impress the selection panel, while the exposure that will be gained is also critical for their holistic development going forward.
Shabazz said the players will have another chance to exhibit what they’ve learned from the experience when they participate in the Parbo Bier Cup in Suriname shortly.
Wilson in his remarks spoke of the work the GFF is doing to give the ‘Jaguars’ the best possible preparation to engage teams the quality of Mexico, Costa Rica and El Salvador with the meagre funds that they have.
He revealed that the GFF is hoping to provide a minimum of five friendlies for the ‘Jaguars’ in the coming months and this is after securing a similar amount previously.
He extended thanks to sponsors such as GT&T, Ansa McAl, Sponsports, the Government and all the others whose contribution aided in making Guyana’s participation in the qualifiers and more possible.
He said that the May 12 is the date set to officially launch the WC campaign.
Khan in brief comments spoke of the soon to be launched brand new website where Guyanese both home and abroad could access information and offer feedback pertaining to the ‘Jaguars’.
Meanwhile, the touring squad is Richard Reynolds, Colin Edwards, Julien Edwards, Kester Jacobs, Ryan Crandon, Travis Grant, Daniel Wilson, Anthony Benfield, Sheldon Holder, Pernell Schultz, Konata Manning, Anthony Abrams, Quincy Madramootoo, Kris Camacho, Colin Nelson, Trayon Bobb, Eon Alleyne, Devor Dennis, Brion Baker and Dwight Peters.
The officials are: Jamaal Shabazz (TD), Wayne Dover (Coach), Ivan Persaud (Trainer), Mark Xavier (Manager), Rawle Adams (General Manager), Andrew Hazel (Goalkeeper Coach), Trevor Burnett (Equipment Manager) and Donna Marie Wickham (Physiotherapist).
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