Digicel Caribbean Cup Tournament
Technical Director of the national football team Trinidadian Jamal Shabazz has taken full responsibility for Guyana’s 0-2 loss to St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Sunday, when the Digicel Caribbean Cup Tournament finals continued in Trinidad.
Speaking to Stabroek Sport by telephone yesterday, Shabazz said: “I take full blame for the defeat. It was not the players, and I intend to do more in working with the team for the next two games. I have to assess myself to see what I could have done.”
This was the `Golden Jaguars’ first loss in 16 consecutive games.
Asked how Sunday’s loss is affecting the team, the Trinidadian said: “The players are a bit down spirited but they are fighters. They are strong, tough characters and are able to pick themselves up and move forward when faced with these situations. The blows that do not break the back usually strengthen it and this blow did not break our backs.”
He vowed to make the team come back into contention in the group and “fight to the end.” He said optimistically: “We have two more group games and we’re looking to achieving our objective which is to win both of those games. If we don’t, we would have done everything in our power to achieve.”
The top two teams from each group will secure a place in the Gold Cup tournament billed for the USA later this year.
With regards to the starting XI for today’s game against Guadeloupe, Shabazz said Shawn Bishop might be included in the starting line up. “We need more creativity, since a lot of teams are strengthening their defence against us and are counter-attacking. So we need a player like Shawn (Bishop) to pass the ball around and create openings (for the strikers).”
Bishop was ruled out of Sunday’s game because of an ankle injury he sustained during the Kashif and Shanghai tournament in Guyana.
Asked what really went wrong on Sunday, Shabazz said the local ball weavers failed to capitalize on the scoring opportunities they had. “We created many chances to score, but we gave them up. The chances created were enough to compensate but in the end we didn’t utilize them so we paid the penalty. So we have to improve for the next two games. We have to make full use of our chances and score goals.”
After today’s game against Guadeloupe, Guyana will tackle the Caribbean number 1 ranked team, Cuba, in their final group game.
Guyana defeated Guade-loupe 3-2 in a second round fixture here in Guyana in November 2006.
According to Shabazz, the Guyanese had at least nine scoring opportunities on Sunday against St. Vincent and two of them were very sure.
Stabroek Sport reminded that one area the team was to have been working on after arriving in Trinidad last week was the area of finishing. However, Shabazz in his response said: “Working on players’ finishing is one thing, but getting them to take these chances during a game situation is another thing. So it’s left to the individual player to take those chances presented.”
Told that persons here who viewed the game on television are of the view that custodian Jason Lloyd was responsible for the first of the two goals being scored against Guyana, Shabazz replied: “Lloyd, like all the other players has a huge responsibility. We in no way attribute the loss to this young man. It was a major game and I take full responsibility for putting him in this scenario, but he’s strong mentally and will bounce back.”
In closing, the Trinidadian Technical Director said: “We got tremendous support from the Guyanese population here in Trinidad as well as from those who flew in for the match. So I want to thank the people of Guyana for their continued support.”