HIS return to the senior Men’s National Team was clear – to help guide Guyana to the 2026 World Cup which will be hosted in the USA, Canada and Mexico.
With that in mind, Golden Jaguars head coach Jamaal Shabazz is only looking for players whose objective aligns with his and that of the Guyana Football Federation (GFF).
On Sunday, while appearing on ‘592 Sports’, a Sports-only show hosted on 94.1 BOOM FM, Shabazz highlighted that his campaign and programme leading up to the 2026 World Cup qualification process, will only see the involvement of players who see themselves at the World Cup.
“I’m not too interested in the player who just wants to play and play for fun and go back to his job. There’s a place for those players in the league, but I want players who want to go to the World Cup,” Shabazz firmly noted.
Guyana’s best performance at the World Cup qualifier came under Shabazz during their run to reach the 2014 tournament in Brazil, where the Golden Jaguars reached the penultimate round of the CONCACAF Qualifiers.
This time around, Shabazz said his approach might not be much of a difference on the pitch, but, off the field of play, “we have to look at lifestyle issues as well.”
“I care about what happens to the athletes and we have to care about what happens to the athlete when they’re not on the pitch,” Shabazz said.
The 54-year-old Trinidadian highlighted he’s “very excited, but we have to work and we have to dedicate ourselves.
You can expect me to insist on a lifestyle change for our players. I will focus on the player, helping him to bring something to the table, helping him to see the need for him to pick himself up and be somebody that is an asset.”
A WAKE UP CALL!
In the 2022 Nations League, Guyana will be joined by the likes of Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti, French Guiana, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Bermuda, Belize, St Vincent and Grenadines, as well as the Dominican Republic, in League B.
The 2022 Nations League will start in June and according to Shabazz, prior to heading into the tournament, the Golden Jaguars will need a wake-up call.
“I would like for us to start against a strong opponent. And even if we have to get beaten, it will show us where we are now. So when we start to train, I would like for us to face an opponent that could be considered a Gold Cup opponent, or even outside of CONCACAF, but an opponent that can beat us,” the usually animated Shabazz said.
He added, “I am not afraid to lose, but I need a reality check! And then from there, we can manage and start to build the programme.”
Last Friday, GFF president Wayne Forde reminded athletes that “it is not a team that qualifies for a FIFA World Cup, but rather – a nation”,
According to Forde, “It therefore goes without saying that the next few weeks, months, and years will certainly test our collective resolve as we pursue this bold and ambitious goal.”