WELCOME back Jamaal Shabazz! Welcome home Golden Jaguars! After a hiatus of over two years, international football has returned to Guyana and the country’s senior National football team did not disappoint the thousands who were in attendance at the Guyana National Stadium, as they gave a stunning display in their 2-0 win over St Lucia.
It was the team’s first home victory since Ricky Shakes and Leon Cort had scored in their 2-0 win against Trinidad and Tobago on September 11, 2011.
Thanks to goals from Eon Alleyne (34th minute) and Sheldon Holder (49th minute), the Golden Jaguars picked up their first win since October 2012 which ironically was against St Lucia (3-0) in the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) tournament.
It was the seventh meeting between the two countries in international football and the win for the Golden Jaguars was to exact revenge for their 2-0 defeat in the 2014 CFU tournament.
Loud cheers erupted when the Jaguars team came out with Akel Clarke between the uprights, defenders Jamaal Smith, Colin Nelson, Joshua Brown and Chris Camacho, mid-fielders captain Chris Nurse, Brandon Beresford and Vurlon Mills with Eon Alleyne, Sheldon Holder and Daniel Wilson as the strikers.
Trinidad and Tobago Pro-league side W-Connection’s midfield player Tremain Paul had the game’s first shot on goal for either side, when his free kick was hit hard and flat and trickled just inches from goal.
But that’s as much the first half offered for the visitors since it was all about the Golden Jaguars for the rest of the contest.
Mills, who enjoyed a fantastic game playing down the wing, orchestrated the game’s first goal when he skilfully, with much grace, dodged his way past St Lucian defenders before slipping it to Daniel Wilson who unselfishly patted it to Alleyne.
The Fruta Conquerors playmaker made no mistake in getting it ball past St Lucia’s custodian Randy Poleon.
The crowd erupted and waved their ‘Golden Arrowhead’ to show appreciation for not only the goal, but the fashion in which it was scored.
Guyana captain could have doubled the score but his sweetly-timed volley, after taking the ball on his chest before turning in one motion to hammer a right-footed shot on target, was tipped over the bar by the flying St Lucia goalkeeper in the 43rd minute.
Poleon’s work between the uprights prevented Guyana from finishing the game with a massive margin of victory and he showed off his ability when he denied Mills who had hit a rocket-like shot from on the edge of the 18-yard box.
The second half of the game saw the Jaguars press home, wanting a convincing win and it paid off when Holder scored a hard right-footed goal, after the ball had taken a slight deflection from a St Lucian player who was in the path of his shot.
Shabazz brought in Dwain Jacobs for Mills; Emery Welshman replaced Holder, Slingerz FC’s Clive Nobrega for Beresford, Konata Manning for Alleyne and Fruta Conquerors Jermine Junor for Wilson.
Nothing much changed in the game for the visitors as Guyana controlled the remainder of the game.
Up next for Jamaal Shabazz and his troop is a clash against Grenada on March 29 at the same venue.
Guyana last played Grenada on February 22, 2012, defeating them 2-1 with goals from Walter Moore and Anthony ‘Awo’ Abrams.
(By Rawle Toney)