Sep 18, 2021 Sports
By Sean Devers
Kaieteur News – Trinidadian Jamal Shabazz who first Coached the Guyana Men’s National Football team in 2006 is now back as National Coach for a fourth time to replace Márcio Máximo who Coached Guyana Men’s team from 2019 to August 2021.
Guyana’s best ever ranking was 86th and was achieved in 2010 during one of Shabazz’s tenure after he took over the reign of Coach two-years after Guyana endured their worst ranking of 185.
Guyana, presently ranked 173rd and yesterday, Shabazz’s appointment saw a new chapter in the history of Guyana’s football.
Speaking at the GFF’s National Training Centre, Providence, Guyana Football Federation (GFF) President Wayne Forde said he was honoured to host Minister of Culture. Youth and Sport Charles Ramson Jr. at a venue which is close to being completed and where lights should be installed next month.
Also present at the head table along with Forde and the Sports Minister was Coach Shabazz while Chairman of the NSC Kashif Mohammed, GFF’s Head of Sports Science Brazilian Wilson Toledo, other GFF Officials and the Media were also in attendance.
Forde posited that Coach Shabazz and his achievements are well known not least his exceptional endeavours in delivering the most successful campaign in FIFA World Cup qualifiers that the ‘Golden Jaguars’ have even known.
“The GFF is extremely confident in Coach Shabazz’s track record and his ability to lead the National Team programme and build on the sturdy foundation already set in place. He is a master of his art who brings extensive expertise and experience to his role. It goes without saying that he will have our full and unrelenting support as we continue to shape the programme towards qualifying for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
This is quite possibly the best time to remind all Guyanese that it is not a team that qualifies for a FIFA World Cup, but rather a Nation. The few weeks, months and years will certainly test our collective resolve as we pursue this bold and ambitious goal. I am however, confident even now that as a Nation, together, we can meet this challenge,” continued Forde.
The GFF Boss expressed gratitude to the Guyana Government for their continued support for the work of the GFF.
“The Minister’s presence here is evidence of the growing strength of our partnership. I would like to commend him for his comprehensive sports development agenda, but more importantly, his focus on infrastructure development.
When asked what was the criteria for appointing Shabazz, Forde said Shabazz was a candidate with the experience in delivering results in the Concacaf Region, someone who was willing to reside in Guyana fulltime, an Individual with a good track record in managing at the International and Caribbean level, someone with a steadfast focus on continuing the work to develop home based talent and his knowledge of Guyana, its football landscape, its culture and its Diaspora.
Responding to a question of when football will be back on the field, Forde said the GFF has been consistent in having its players and officials vaccinated and are very realistic about the danger of the pandemic.
“We have provided the Covid Task Force with all the information on how the National team can still practice and train in a controlled environment with testing being very important. But with the cases here continuing to rise, we think it is a risk to return to competition matches and we will keep in contact with the Task Force. I encourage everyone to get vaccinated,” added Forde who disclosed that had taken the vaccine.
Minister Ramson Jr. informed that the Guyana National Stadium, Providence will become a multi-sport facility with a football field being built on the land to the North of the Stadium compound with lights being erected so football can be played on that field which will be opened until 8pm.
According to the Sports Minister, by the end of this year or early next year, that ground should be completed while the first ever Sports Conference will be held in October where the various Associations and all stakeholders will have an opportunity to share ideas for the development of sports locally. In November the Sports Academy will be launched.
He said he wanted to be present at yesterday’s press conference because of two main reasons. The first being that Coach Shabazz had presided over the Golden Jaguars when they enjoyed their best ranking ever in the world by FIFA and secondly because he had come with credentials and experience.
“We (GOG) will pay for Shabazz’s accommodation and car for as long as he resides in the Guyana. We have a very good relationship with the GFF. The Ministry has set very high goals with partnerships and collaborations,” said Ramson, who’s focused on improving community grounds.
The garrulous Shabazz, who described himself as a Guyanese, indicated his surprise at transformation in Guyana since he was last here including the soon to be fully completed GFF’s Training Centre which has an artificial turf.
Shabazz said when he first came here 15 years ago those in Trinidad would have a lot of negative things to say about Guyana but now that oil is being found here many Trinidadians want to come here and invest
He said he wanted to build on the work done by Coaches like Wayne Dover, Michael Johnson and Márcio Máximo and feels international coaches are important to Guyana’s success but also said they should impart their knowledge to the local Coaches.
“The Government’s contribution to and support of sports in Guyana is remarkable …and this is not a paid political ad,” he said with his usual humour.
He touched on how he would deal with the issue of players living in Guyana and players of Guyanese ancestry living overseas.
“I see it as amateurs versus professional but all are Guyanese whether they were born here or not. I want to be able to send the local based players to play at the international level,” said Shabazz who also stressed on the role the media has to play for the football to develop.
With the return of Coach Shabazz, for his third stint, Guyana finished top of a group containing Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Bermuda to reach the third round of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. They qualified with one game to go with a 2–1 home win against Trinidad and Tobago on November 11, 2011.
Guyana organised friendly matches against Columbia, Bolivia, Jamaica and Panama for the first team. In the third round group, they finished last, behind Mexico, Costa Rica and El Salvador, with one point from their six matches.
“A dream and a vision are two different things. I have a vision that with Government, Corporate Guyana and Media support and GFF executing their plans well, we can qualify for the next World Cup. As it has been said it’s not a team that wins but a Nation,” stated Shabazz.
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