Shabazz yearns to stay with Golden Jaguars

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, CMC – Jamaal Shabazz said he is working on a deal with the Trinidad & Tobago Football Federation that would also allow him to stay with Guyana.

The Guyanese national coach said he was being torn between the love of his native T&T and the love he has gotten from his adopted home, Guyana.

Shabazz was recalled by the T&TFF after he conditioned Guyana to the semi-final stage of CONCACAF qualification for the 2014 World Cup, winning a crucial last game that eliminated his native land.

“I’ve been meeting with the T&TFF about my position with Guyana and yes, they have made me some very good offers, encouraging me to stay there for good,” he said.

“But those who know me well will tell you, I have made them an even better one that would allow me to be both places without any issues, but I have to wait and see how things turn out. Hopefully, it will be for the best.”

Shabazz was loaned to the Guyana Football Federation for three months to help the Golden Jaguars wade through the quarter-final round of World Cup qualification.

But Shabazz and the Guyana national team exceeded all expectations, cruising into the next round at the expense of T&T, much to the chagrin of Trinbagonians.

“People have been saying to me, even in the supermarket, ‘Boy, Jamaal, why you did that to us?’,” he said.

“You know, for me and my family, it wasn’t easy at all but, I let them understand that it’s just football, that’s all and so I have been making several sacrifices for [Guyana].”

Shabazz said he would not be an easy decision to turn his back on the Guyanese. After all, he has enjoyed overwhelming success with them since he first linked up with the Golden Jaguars about five years ago.

“That would be something I hope doesn’t happen because I know the effect it can have on this country as a nation,” he said.

“I’ve come to love Guyana, the people, the players, their commitment, and so I feel like they are my family, my adopted home with the amount of love and respect I get here.”

He added: “I have been in contact with the players, telling them not to be distracted about what’s happening with me, but to look ahead because we have a tough task in the next round.

“No matter what, they would always have my support, my contribution in whatever way I can to help that team.”

Shabazz said he would relish the chance to guide the Soca Warriors and test himself to see if he can achieve similar results with them, but he conceded to walk away would mean there was unfinished business in Guyana.

The Guyanese were ranked 91st in the World in the latest FIFA Rankings released on Wednesday, one place below their highest ranking ever.

The Golden Jaguars face a tough task in the next round of World Cup qualifying however. They face a group that includes CONCACAF giants Mexico and Costa Rica, as well as tenacious Central American side El Salvador next year.

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