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Golden Jaguars aiming to stay ‘perfect’ against Bermuda today at Leonora

JUST three days after an impressive performance against Montserrat that put the Golden Jaguars off to a perfect start in the CONCACAF Nations League, the Guyanese men will be looking to remain unbeaten when they take on Bermuda today from 16:00hrs at the National Track and Field Centre, Leonora.

“Having seen some of the clips of the Bermuda/Haiti match, we anticipate another tough encounter from Bermuda,” Head Coach Jamaal Shabazz told Chronicle Sport following his return from the Dominican Republic.

Bermuda and Haiti, at the end of 90 minutes at the Bermuda National Stadium, left the pitch with a scoreless result and shared points in their first match in Group B of League B.

Shabazz is always respectful of his opponents, even while maintaining that he’s looking to walk away from the encounter as the winner. However, with Bermuda, the Golden Jaguars will have a score to settle.

The last time Guyana defeated Bermuda, Vurlon Mills netted both goals in the side’s 2 – 1 win at the Guyana National Stadium during the Golden Jaguars’ infamous run in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

Shabazz also stood in charge in the return leg in Hamilton, when former Brentford forward, Ricky Shakes, scored an 81st-minute goal to help Guyana salvage a 1 – 1 draw.

The only other time the two sides met was during the Golden Jaguars’ preparation for their historic showing at the 2019 Gold Cup. Bermuda picked up a 1 – 0 victory at home. It was their first win against Guyana with Michael Johnson at the helm of the team.

Terrell Ondaan, Matthew Briggs, Neil Danns, Sam Cox, Daniel Wilson, Akel Clarke and Stephen Duke-McKenna, who are all on the current Golden Jaguars team, faced the Bermudans in the two side’s last meeting on June 6, 2019.

“All the matches in this group will be great match-ups because all the teams are so closely knitted in terms of ability and organisation,” Shabazz said.

Shabazz was boastful of his 18-year-old talisman, Omari Glasgow, who scored two classic goals to claw the Golden Jaguars to a come-from-behind 2 – 1 win against Montserrat at the Estadio Félix Sánchez Stadium on Saturday.

Glasgow completed a move from Fruta Conquerors to Major League Soccer (MLS) side, Chicago Fire in January where he’s currently competing in the MLS Next Pro League, scoring twice in his three outings (so far).

However, Glasgow has been impressive for Guyana since his Senior National team debut against The Bahamas in the Golden Jaguars’ run in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.

Glasgow scored on debut, followed by goals against Barbados (two). With his double against Montserrat, Glasgow now has five International goals in eight outings.

There is no doubt that he will be a regular feature for Shabazz, once available.

In typical Shabazz fashion, the team’s composition against internally self-governing British overseas territory will remain a mystery, at least until game-time.

Against Montserrat, Shabazz started with Quillan Roberts in goal, while his ‘back four’ featured UK-based players Matthew Briggs, Jaylen Jones, Captain Sam Cox and Western Tigers defender, Quincy ‘German’ Adams.

Bournemouth FC talent, Nathan Moriah-Welsh and veteran Neil Danns, along with Daniel Wilson, controlled the middle third, while Frenchman Terrell Ondaan, Trayon Bobb and Glasgow provided the attack.

With Bermuda, just like Guyana, having several players from the English professional league system, it will be interesting to see the Golden Jaguars’ style of play.

Shabazz will be playing his first game at home since his much-celebrated return, telling Chronicle Sport, “we’re happy to play at home and looking forward to giving our best. Playing at home gives you that feeling of wanting to please your fans and making your country proud.”

“The mood in the camp is good and fans can expect a total effort from the Golden Jaguars. I cannot predict anything, but we intend to work hard and dig deep to grind out a result. We want our people to be part of this journey with us,” Shabazz said.

He added, “We want the entire country to share this moment with us because this is football’s contribution to the ‘One Guyana’.

Meanwhile, the Golden Jaguars will play host to Haiti on June 11, also at Leonora.

The team will return to the Dominican Republic on June 14 for their away game against the Haitians.

Guyana will afterwards travel to Hamilton on March 25, 2023, to face Bermuda.

Shabazz and his troops will close their participation in the second edition of the Nations League with a home game against Montserrat on March 28, 2023.

According to CONCACAF, the Nations League will serve as the qualifier for the 2023 Gold Cup.