PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – Former Trinidad and Tobago football team coach Jamaal Shabazz has turned down an offer as assistant coach to the CONCACAF Gold Cup-bound “Soca Warriors”.
Shabazz rejected the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) offer shortly after the appointments of Trinidad-born Canadian Stephen Hart as the new Head coach and Leo Beenhakker as Technical Director. This means that both Shabazz and co-head coach Hutson Charles are demoted to the roles of assistant coaches.
However, Shabazz has publicly declined the offer to work under the new arrangements while maintaining mutual respect to Messrs Hart and Beenhakker who previously worked with the TTFA.
“I will not be part of the new set up. The TTFA president and general secretary know my position on the matter,” Shabazz said. “And this is no disrespect to Mr. Stephen Hart, because he will know why I cannot accept. This is a matter of process and principle, it’s not an ego thing.”
The Caledonia AIA technical director said that he and Charles led Trinidad and Tobago to the Gold Cup “without salary for six months, bearing with patience and keeping the players motivated”. He felt it “disrespectful” of new TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips to hire new coaches, and “hide behind” Beenhakker’s reputation.
Shabazz is scheduled to attend an interview with United States consular officers this week to regularise his travel to the US as part of the team for the Gold Cup. However, he plans to attend the interview but indicate that he is no longer part of the coaching set up.
“I’ve gotten the support of (the) Ministry of Justice and (Ministry of) Foreign Affairs, and the US Embassy who told the Foreign Affairs that I should apply. I’ve gotten a date for (this) Thursday. But I think the decent thing for me to do now is to go to that interview and say to them that I no longer have a reason to travel to the United States because I’m no longer on the technical staff.
“The only time that I want to go to the US is to represent my national team, or any national team that I may be working with in the future.”
Trinidad and Tobago will see action in Group B of the CONCACAF Gold Cup along with Honduras, Haiti and El Salvador and will play the latter in their opening fixture on July 8 at the Red Bull Arena in New Jersey.