By Emmerson Campbell
After topping Group Two of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Championships in St Lucia last month, Guyana’s Golden Jaguars will look to mirror that achievement starting today when they tackle Haiti in their opening Group Six game here in St. George’s, Grenada.
Despite missing some key starting players through money related issues, Guyana’s head coach, Jamaal Shabazz and his 20-man team are on a quest to qualify for the finals of the CFU Championships next month Antigua.
The Jaguars will be roaring without their star striker, Gregory ‘Jackie Chan’ Richardson, starting goal keeper Ronson Williams, Dwight Peters, Anthony ‘Awo’ Abrams and Konata Mannings, however Shabazz and Captain Chris Nurse are confident of positive results.
“Haiti is always a difficult team and the group is a strong one because we know these teams before and everybody would like to qualify for the finals but our team is rounding into a fighting unit,” said Shabazz after the team’s practice session yesterday.
“We had a good practice game against W Connections and we won three-one on Monday in Trinidad and the younger boys got among the goals, Pernell Shultz also Trayon Bobb so we are rounding the team into a fighting force.”
Shabazz continued “I think the squad now has settled and we are living with the reality that we are the current crew that is going to represent Guyana and we feel confident that we can do a job and do it with pride and a certain level of commitment that would make the country proud”.
Nurse stated that the #57 FIFA ranked Haitian team is not head and shoulders above any of the other three teams in the group and stated that he is hopeful of a victory tomorrow.
“I don’t think Haiti is any stronger than us or Grenada or French Guiana” Nurse said. “Its our first game and we obviously want to get off to a good start, hopefully we can do that, we just have to go out there and give our best”.
Dubbed La Sélection Nationale, the Haitians football team has won the CFU Cup on three occasions, in 1989, 1995 and 1997.
Kick off time is 18:00hrs at the Grenada National Stadium.
The top two teams in this group will qualify for the final next month in Antigua.
Guyana’s squad reads Nurse,Derrick Carter, Jake Newton, Kelvin Smith, Jamal Smith, Nicholas Millington, Colin Nelson, Charles Pollard, Kester Jacobs, Trayon Bobb, Shawn Beveney, Carey Harris, Dwain Jacobs, Clive Nobrega, Pernell Shultz, Walter Moore, Vurlon Mills, Akel Clarke, Sheldon Holder and Daniel Wilson.