PROVIDENCE, Guyana -- Having exited from qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in the second round after a two-legged series against St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Guyana head coach Jamaal Shabazz reflected on the reasons for the unwelcomed outcome.
He pinpointed a lack of satisfactory defending as the main culprit.
“I don’t want to be hypothetical and naive,” said Shabazz. “It’s clear, if teams score more goals than you they win. We didn’t lose the match, but we lost the round by this result.”
Guyana labored under the constant pressure applied by the visiting Vincy Heat in a 4-4, second-leg draw on Sunday. That result, combined with a 2-2 stalemate in the opener, saw the Golden Jaguars be eliminated on the away-goals rule.
The plain-spoken Shabazz viewed the setback as a lesson learned and stressed that numerous young players are on his radar.
“Football is to be played and now we’ve got to build a product again,” remarked the 51-year-old. “When you are down is the time you need the support and the football with this draw, where we have exited from the World Cup, need now for us to continue playing friendly matches on the FIFA dates against top opponents.”
While identifying, introducing and developing players for the international game will be paramount to his plans, Shabazz was philosophical about the future, saying: “The blows that don’t break our back will certainly strengthen it.”
Improved training facilities and increased competitive opportunities will contribute to structuring the program.
“The elite league is coming where the players based in Guyana would be able to compete against each other and it is the only way forward,” Shabazz finished. “We can’t say we’re going to work on passing, we’re going to work on shooting, we got to work on defending. No, we have to look at a holistic program now going forward and build.”