Guyana (pictured) trains at the National Stadium in Providence, Guyana on January 22, 2015.
GEORGETOWN, Guyana – With an eye on its first game of 2015, Guyana opened a week-long training camp on Friday. After more than two years without playing a FIFA-recognized friendly, the Golden Jaguars will face host Barbados on February 1.
Jamaal Shabazz, who was recently named head coach for the match, acknowledged that the players’ fitness levels need to be improved.
“So these few days we would try to use the ball to get them up to the level as close as possible,” said Shabazz. “Of course, it is like making bread out of stone, but we look forward to the challenge and we are happy just to be looking organized in the national team uniform again and getting out there and working.”
Also linking up with the squad was former captain and the 2014 North American Soccer League Humanitarian Award recipient Chris Nurse, who led the Golden Jaguars during its best ever showing on the international stage during CONCACAF qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
While Shabazz is looking forward to having the overseas-based performers in the set-up, he was quick to point out that the technical staff will be focused on what the local pool of players have to offer.
“The overseas players are always like promised bricks, a man promise you some bricks, you can’t build the house until the bricks come,” the 51-year-old remarked. “So what we have is the material. We use what we have here now, then when we look we see, ok, maybe we need a roof, maybe we need a window or front door you know. So we look now and focus now on the guys who are here.”
Though Shabazz’s arrangement with the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) Normalization Committee is just for the Barbados encounter, he wants to be considered for the position in the long term, especially considering preparations for 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying will need to commence soon.
“I will be happy to be considered for after the Barbados game, but, again, I am so focused, I don’t even know an island that goes beyond Barbados,” Shabazz finished. “I am just so focused on Barbados.”
In their last meeting on October 7, 2011, Guyana won 2-0 at Barbados.