Head Coach Jamaal Shabazz took time out today to sit one-on-one with GFF Online, in a Q and A session, touching on a number of issues relating to his tenure with the Guyana Football Federation (GFF).
Shabazz inked a two-year contract with the GFF in March of this year, which saw the Caledonia AIA founder and owner taking charge of this country’s Under-23 and Senior teams.
The Golden Jaguars failed to get by St Vincent and the Grenadines in their Russia 2018 World Cup Qualifier, losing on aggregate after drawing 2 – 2 at the Arnos Vale Sports Complex and 4 – 4 at the Guyana National Stadium.
Shabazz then shifted his focus to the National U-23 squad, competing presently in the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Olympic Qualifier but again, was met with disappointment as Guyana lost their two games played so far (against Cuba and Antigua) by a 2 – 0 scoreline.
Guyana will play Aruba tomorrow (Sunday June 28) in the last game of the tournament. Only one team will advance to the next round. Both Cuba and Antigua defeated Aruba 11 – 1 and 7 – 0 respectively.
GFF Online: How would you describe the U-23’s performance at the Tournament
Shabazz: The team performed to its capacity with a little luck we could at best draw with Cuba and Antigua. Reality is both countries gave a superior program to us at this stage. I am proud of the guys but in football there are levels and Cuba and Antigua right now are more experienced more organized than us on and off the field.
GFF Online: Guyana lost two games; what would you say is responsible for those loses.
Shabazz: To say reasons for losses suggests that you on our with an opponent. Those who know football will know we not on par with those two teams but with a continuous program and more resources into the team we will catch them.
GFF Online: What does the game against Aruba means for you and your team?
Shabazz: The Aruba game is important because it’s the battle of two teams for pride. And like we did against Cuba and Antigua it is a good practice to play hard right down to the last minute.
GFF Online: You’re familiar with some of the players in the opposition, how would you rather them with the players on your squad.
Shabazz: Individually we have players on par with the Cubans and Antiguans in terms of technical ability. But tactical understanding our local based boys struggled and it shows our coaching at the lower age group needs more education and attention. People get offended but if you want to make omelette we got to have eggs.
GFF Online: What’s next for you with regards to Guyana’s football and what advise would you give to the GFF/Technical Director to help your programme.
Shabazz: Your question as to what’s next for me re Guyana football suggests that you are running me. But trust me I am stronger than to be moved by a string of results that did not go our way and preparation that can be described as far from adequate.
The dream of wanting to move from Zero to Hero must be tempered by the reality of how far we have come after two and a half years of dormancy. If you put 200 in the bank and you push your card to withdraw 500 , you will get a slip stating this cannot happen. Football is no different.
The Normilsation Committee and Mr Clinton (Urling) is open to blows but they must get credit to the fact that we back on the field competing. The foundation is being laid and the seeds are being planted. With Allah’ s help and more work collectively we shall see the fruits of our labour in two years.
GFF Online: Some would want to call your tenure now a failure; using the World Cup Qualifier and now the CFU Qualifier as their medium to cast judgement. How would you respond to that?
Shabazz: Failure is relative to where you are, where you started and what realistically was your objectives and possibilities. We did not achieved our objective to advance so we failed to do that. But maybe advancing would have given us a false sense of comfort that things a properly in place for our football development. We advanced in 2011 and look at where we ended up after that. So is it about hype and illusions or building a program that could have proper facilities for training. Good support systems. And excellent opportunity for long term success.
GFF Online: Compare your term now as Head Coach as compared to the times prior; what are the distinct differences.
Shabazz: The major difference now that my past tenures is the hostility and disunity in the football fraternity. Those who expect Allah to give us success with division disunity and malice have a low estimation of our Creator. We saw what the present Government achieved by unity and football is a team game. Yet those who wants to hold the reins of power in local football are pregnant with hatred and divisiveness. Let their arise a new generation of young people who would love their Lord, love football and love Guyana.
GFF Online: Do you see grounds to fall to the calls of resignation from some section of the public?
Shabazz: The people who want me to resign are within their rights but they are the same people who did not want me to return. They see my spirit to bring people together as a threat to their negative agenda to steal the football and suppress individuals or groups who see things differently. I have been through highs and lows in my life. Ups and downs and thus period is yet another test for my character, the faith in my Lord and the belief in me giving my best for my country. Yes my country. When my contract is up they will see my back. In the meantime dem ah go tired fuh see meh face. I am not a mouse I am a jaguar. And a Jaguar for life. Roarrrrrrrr.
My work continues and more relentless than before. Now with time we need resources the ship will be built hopefully before the flood comes we can be sailing.