Apr 29, 2016 Sports
Kaieteur Sport starts a new series of discussion with National Football Coach Jamaal Shabazz as we get into his mind for Guyana’s upcoming clash with Canada. Today Shabazz focuses on his midfield.
“A very combative game played with a high level of intensity!” This is how National Coach Jamaal Shabazz described the Slingerz FC vs Alpha United clash which ended in a 1-1 draw on Sunday evening last at the GDF ground.
With Guyana’s clash against Canada’s Olympic team carded for next month Shabazz welcomes the intense battles and is urging the midfielders in the country to emulate the efforts of Golden Jaguars Captain Christopher Nurse in the way he closes down opponents and combats in midfield.
“We have a lot of midfielders who can play but they also allow the opponents to play, there is not enough aggression and desire shown to close the ball down. “And this is what Chris Nurse does, he battles; and unless the other midfielders increase their ability to challenge the opponents it’s difficult for them to take his place in the team.
“Even Neil Danns is a warrior in midfield so having talent is not enough anymore at international level. Because you are playing against a country’s best and passion and aggression must match talent, he added.
Pointing to the likes of Konata Mannings, Travis Grant, Clive Nobrega, Daniel Wilson, Tichard Joseph and Brandon Beresford Shabazz said.
“They are all talented lads but who is going to die on the field before they let the opponent past them? Polite players are nice to know but they don’t win matches….. The modern midfielder must close down players and get better at sealing off space and blocking passing lanes.”
Shabazz reviewed the improvements made by Elite League Genesis winners and current Finale leaders Slingerz FC midfielder Tischard Joseph who seemed to come from nowhere and started in the CFU Qualifiers against Anguilla and Puerto Rico.
“Tischard is easily one of the more dominant players in the Elite League and literally selected himself into a starting spot. The talent of a player on paper and in our minds is one thing but the effort and attitude of the player on the pitch is the reality I value more.”
In looking at the midfielders for the game against Canada, Shabazz was happy to see Brandon Beresford land a contract in the USA and says he will be looking at a more youthful midfield for the match.
“I am pleased to see Brandon earn himself a contract in Rochester, he did well for us last June for the World Cup Qualifiers but for CFU he did not come in with that fire in his belly. This contract should boost his confidence because he is one of our key players.
“I want to see more from Konata, Nobrega and Wilson when it comes to closing the ball down and competing with opponents for midfield dominance. After all this is the national team not a trade fair.”
Reflecting on the heart of the midfield of past Guyana players he has worked with Shabazz sang praises for the work ethic of Kayode McKinnon and deceased duo of Shawn Bishop and Neil Hernandez.
“Kayode was a worker and not short on talent similar to Hernandez and well, Shawn Bishop was easily my favorite player. When you consider that these guys had a player with Chris Nurse’ work rate on the bench…..you appreciate what they brought to the Jaguars back then.”
Looking to the future players Shabazz says he will not rule out the possibility of calling a couple young midfielders who are showing potential in the Elite League.
“I like what I am seeing of GFC’s Curtis Kellman and Lennox “Tiger” Cort while Kevin Layne of Monnerderlust, Jahall Greaves and Dwayne Lindie of Conquerors are certainly under our radar.
“You never know maybe one of them may feature against Canada. I like to take risks with young players because in coaching it is how the ugly duckling can develop into a beautiful swan,” added Shabazz.
Guyana plays Canada on May 15 at the Providence Stadium as part of the 50th Anniversary Independence celebrations.
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