JAMAAL SHABAZZ, who held stints as men’s coach for both TT and Guyana, admitted that he is “in a funny position” ahead of today’s Concacaf Gold Cup Group D match between TT and Guyana at the Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, United States.
This match will be a virtual dead-rubber, as both teams are out of contention for a place in the Gold Cup quarter-final round.
The Dennis Lawrence-coached TT squad suffered 2-0 and 6-0 defeats to Panama and the United States, on Tuesday and Saturday respectively.
Guyana, with Michael Johnson at the helm, were beaten 4-0 by the US,on Tuesday, and 4-2 by Panama on Saturday.
Shabazz, who is currently the St Lucia team coach, said yesterday, “As a ‘Guyanese-Trinidadian’ who’s gone over to St Lucia, I’m in a funny position.
“I have to support my friend and colleague Dennis Lawrence and I’m always sympathetic to Guyana for what they have done for my own development, and the opportunity that they gave to me,” he added.
Numerous fingers have been pointed at both Lawrence and the TT Football Association (TTFA) for Saturday’s embarrassing 6-0 defeat against the US,at the FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland.
But Shabazz has called on the TT players to take more responsibility for their actions.
“For TT to win, the players must take a greater responsibility for their performance,” Shabazz said. “The politicians in local football who wants to push themselves will use this as an opportunity to blame the coach for the performance against USA, the same coach who was there when we beat USA (on October 10, 2017).”
Shabazz, the former Morvant Caledonia United and TT women’s team coach, asked, “Are they saying, that he was a good coach yesterday and a bad coach today, or could the players have applied themselves differently?”
He is expecting a good contest today (kick-off time is 6.30 pm).
“With regards to Guyana, they’ve shown tremendous promise and I like the cadre of players that they have. It’s going to be a good game.”
However, Shabazz is concerned about the performances of four Caribbean teams – TT, Guyana, Martinique and Cuba.
In Group A, Martinique and Cuba have also been eliminated. Martinique finished with three points from three games and Cuba were beaten in all their three encounters. About his current role as St Lucia coach, Shabazz said, “(I) have had one month. We’ve been training for three weeks and we beat (Terminix La Horquetta) Rangers on two occasions. “I’m very happy with how the team is coming along, and the reception that I have received so far from the players and the people in the (St Lucia Football) Association. I’m eager to continue my work and further my career.”