…Jamaal Shabazz returns to pilot Golden Jaguars on World Cup campaign
THE Guyana Football Federation (GFF) officially announced the return of Jamaal Shabazz to the helm of the country’s senior men’s national programme – the Golden Jaguars.
Having first taken charge of the Golden Jaguars in 2005, the 57-year-old Trinidad and Tobago native will make his fourth stop as the Golden Jaguars Head Coach, after also serving in 2011 – 2012 and 2015 – 2016.
“Today marks another new and exciting chapter in the history of Guyana’s Golden Jaguars. We are pleased to announce that Mr. Jamaal Shabazz is the new Head Coach for the Senior Men’s National Team,” Wayne Forde, president of the GFF said at a press conference hosted at the Federation’s National Training Centre at Providence.
“The GFF’s Executive Committee is extremely confident in Coach Shabazz’s track record and his ability to lead the national team programme and to build on the sturdy foundation already set in place. He is a master of his art who brings extensive expertise and experience to this role,” Forde said.
The GFF president added that “it goes without saying that he will have our full and unrelenting support as we continue to shape the programme towards qualifying for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
This is quite possibly the best time to remind all Guyanese that it is not a team that qualifies for a FIFA World Cup, but rather — a nation.”
A DIFFERENT APPROACH
Shabazz departed in 2016 following a heart-breaking 4 – 2 defeat to Reggae Boyz at the National Track and Field Centre in the 2016 Caribbean Cup Qualifiers, where the Jamaicans came from being down 2 – 0 at half time to win.
Since then, the Golden Jaguars were led by Shabazz’s assistant, Wayne Dover, former Jamaica International Michael Johnson and recently, Brazilian Marcio Maximo.
Shabazz lauded the three coaches for all their inputs towards the Golden Jaguars, while adding, “I’m here to build upon the platform of their work, while bringing my own experience, love and commitment to the game. Building isn’t all about ‘mashing down’ but it is about using platforms that have been established already.”
The Morvant Caledonia football club founder highlighted the change in Guyana’s football landscape over the last 15 years when he was first introduced to the ‘Land of Many Waters’ as a coach.
At the press conference, where Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Charles Ramson Jr., along with Chairman of the National Sports Commission (NSC) Kashif Muhammed were in attendance, Shabazz reminded the gathering of media and other GFF execs, of the many times they were forcefully removed from venues after breaching the borders of the facility to gain access to train, since no permission was given.
“When I look at the technological and infrastructural advancement in the last five years, a lot has to do with the leadership of president Forde and the executives,” Shabazz said.
Shabazz is calling for a collective approach, with all stakeholders involved, particularly the Government of Guyana and the media, for him to achieve success this time around.
Meanwhile, Minister Ramson Jr, upon listing the many achievements of Shabazz under his previous tenures as Head Coach, assured the nation that the Trinidadian will be more than capable in leading the Golden Jaguars to prosperity.
“Jamaal Shabazz comes with the credentials, he comes with the experience; he comes with the record that’s proven and tested. And on behalf of the Government of Guyana, I would like to welcome him back,” Ramson said.
The Golden Jaguars ended their season under former Coach, Marcio Maximo, with a failed bid at qualifying for the 2020 CONCACAF Gold Cup, as well as falling short of advancing to the next round of their FIFA Qatar World Cup Qualifier.