It was the perfect homecoming for Jamaal Shabazz as Guyana secured their first home win in over three years, defeating St. Lucia 2-0 in an international friendly held at the National Stadium in Providence on Sunday.
The return of international football to local shores after an absence of more than 29 months was worth the wait as Eon Alleyne recorded his maiden senior goal in the 34th minute and Sheldon Holder netted in the 49th minute, firing the Golden Jaguars to victory in the countries seventh meeting.
With the victory, Guyana exacted revenge for their 2014 defeat by an identical score to the Saint Lucians during the Caribbean Cup tourney, in the process claiming their first victory of any kind during the third coming of Shabazz.
The Golden Jaguar’s last win on home soil came against Trinidad and Tobago during the 2014 World Cup Qualifiers in November 11 2011.
That famous win allowed the Golden Jaguars to qualify for the first time in their history for the third round of the CONCACAF qualifiers. Guyana will now faceoff with Grenada in another international friendly at the same venue on March 29th.
Lining up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, the starting 11 for the Golden Jaguars would consist of Akel Clarke (goalkeeper), Colin Nelson, Jamal Smith, Chris Camacho, Joshua Browne, captain Chris Nurse, Brandon Beresford, Vurlon Mils, Alleyne, Holder and Daniel Wilson.
Despite the large gathering urging them on, it would be the visitors who would fashion the first shot in the seventh minute as Tremain Paul rifled a powerful strike just wide of the lower right hand corner, from outside the left of the box.
While the gathering would have to wait 27 minutes onward for Guyana’s first shot on target, their patience would be greatly rewarded as Alleyne sent the stadium into a frenzy, placing his right footed effort from within the left side of the area pass custodian Randy Poleon, down the centre of the net.
Whereas the finish will be attributed to Alleyne’s deft touch, the entire buildup of the goal was orchestrated by Vurlon Mills, who skipped past two markers on the right side of the field, before laying off to Wilson within the right side of the box, who crossed the ball into the path of the onrushing winger.
With the momentum on their side, the Golden Jaguars almost added to their lead in the 43rd minute but Nurse was denied acrobatically by Poleon who tipped his effort over the crossbar, after the midfielder had turned and smashed his first-time shot from the top of the box.
Mills would then get into the action once again two minutes onward, forcing a smart save from Poleon with his legs as his powerful right footed strike from beyond the right half of the box, dipped suddenly in front the shot-stopper.
Opting to swap Mills for Jacobs to start second stanza, the loud cheers of the viewership would reach its crescendo as Holder sealed the eventual score line under albeit fortuitous circumstances.
Latching onto the ball just outside the centre of the area, Holder would unleash a right footed strike that took a sharp deflection off the body of a defender, wrong footing the keeper in the process and settling into the lower right hand corner.
With the score line at a comfortable position and St. Lucia failing to create any dangerous changes, Guyana would utilise a further four substitutions as Emery Welshman, Clive Nobrega, Konata Manning and Jermin Junior were introduced in the places of Holder, Alleyne, Beresford and Wilson respectively to see out the result.
In the earlier exhibition matchup, Georgetown u-23 defeated Linden u-23 by a 1-0 score line. Jumane Somerset separated the two sides in the 25th minute, directing his header into the left corner after latching onto a right sided Darren Benjamin corner kick within the centre of the box.