Shabazz explains Soca Warrior selections

Gems at Lajoya

The Oxford dictionary’s definition of schizophrenia is a “mental disorder marked by disconnection between thoughts, feelings and actions.” So forgive me for feeling a bit sorry for myself since I find the headline used by our Wired868’s founder and head honcho, Lasana Liburd, as a bit harsh.

But, since I am not thin-skinned, I welcome this challenge especially since Liburd has proved his loyalty to objective journalism by his willingness to allow my response.

Given the fact that I operate in a unique partnership of coaches that does not yet have a clearly defined veto power, my thoughts, feelings and even actions are not a result of a mental disorder marked by disconnection. Instead, it is a work in progress as operating with a joint head coach and under a technical director is very different from my roles with Guyana and Caledonia AIA where I was chief, cook and bottle washer.

Photo: Jamaal Shabazz made history with the Guyana national football team and Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA in 2012.
Photo: Jamaal Shabazz made history with the Guyana national football team and Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA in 2012.

So, my position within the Trinidad and Tobago football set-up is not the ideal one for a national coach aspirant. But it is a challenge I have opted to take up as it checks my ego, my sense of patriotism and my ability to blaze a new trail at a very critical time in our country’s football history.

Hutson Charles and myself have decided to use the warm-up matches to build the Gold Cup team by keeping a core of players while, for each game, giving an opportunity to see two or three new faces. As far as possible, we have agreed that we will try to use players who perform at the highest level locally. But we will keep the door open to any player who, based on his talent, fitness and circumstance, can be an exception to the rule.

This is the case of Marcus Joseph who plays for Point Fortin Civic Centre in the Southern Football Association.

Lack of ambition is not a correct assessment of his decision to play for Civic but rather his ambition to get the southern team back to the highest level of football.

Joseph was paid a monthly salary to play for Civic while others got jobs and received a stipend. He had a choice to play with one of four Pro League Clubs and, even as recently as January, he had a choice between playing for Civic in a TTFF FA quarter final or jumping through the transfer window deadline to play in the Pro League.

Photo: Marcus Joseph (left) tackles German midfielder Tony Jantschke during the 2007 FIFA Under-17 World Cup. Jantschke is now his fifth professional season with Bundesliga club, Borussia Mönchengladbach. (Courtesy
Photo: Marcus Joseph (left) tackles German midfielder Tony Jantschke during the 2007 FIFA Under-17 World Cup.
Jantschke is now his fifth professional season with Bundesliga club, Borussia Mönchengladbach.

I plead guilty to advising Marcus to stay and help Civic to reach the Super League and the FA final and I encouraged him to commit to coach Reynold Carrington and take up the challenge to help an important part of our football history climb its way back up the local football ladder.

Where are the southerners when you need them? Help me out here: Mr Mayor of Point Fortin, Cro Cro, Steve David, Iwer George, Super Blue. Rescue me please.

Marcus’ progress has been monitored by Hutson Charles and we are satisfied that this Under-23 standout can be given the opportunity to show he can be an exception to the rule. Only in the experiment will we be able to determine wisdom from folly.

Regarding Jason Marcano’s exclusion, I think he is in our radar and his time will come but we need a genuine left-sided player on the left flank  who will go on the outside of the defender to cross the ball and we see Joseph as a good candidate to try out in these games against Belize and Peru.

Chris Birchall has been a committed soldier every time he wore the red, white and black and this is not the final list for the Gold Cup but an opportunity to see how he fits into our set-up. What better opportunity than these two matches?

Of course we want him to be playing every week but after seeing him in these two matches we will be in a better position to narrow down our list for players in that position.

These are warm-up matches and the arguments put forward by Liburd would be more potent if the Gold Cup was next week.

Enter Keon Daniel: the guy who went missing for the Tobago leg of the CFU, much to the disappointment to his teammates, fans and the staff.

Keon contacted the Manager and expressed remorse for his disappearance and, as a staff, we understood that he dealt with a challenging period in his life in a manner that he felt was best.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago playmaker Keon Daniel.
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago playmaker Keon Daniel.

Should he apologize to the nation as a prerequisite? Maybe it is not too late for him to do that.

Does it affect team spirit including him now that he says he is ready to commit? This we will know in the next couple days but we have chosen to give this player a chance.

Are we singular in giving errant players a chance without a public apology? Even if we are, we stand by this in the same way as we stand by Cornell Glen’s re-inclusion into the squad.

International football presents a national coach, in this case joint coaches, with a wide variety of players to choose from, locally and overseas. We aim to build our team for the Gold Cup with a core group of players while continuing to leave a couple spaces open for trial players in the friendly matches.

Thus, players will be in and out of the national team, which is a fact of life playing at this level.

The squad that we pick today will have the Gold Cup in mind but it is a step towards our final conclusion and nothing more.

Consequently, Jan-Michael Williams is not blacklisted. But maybe his recent circumstance gave an opportunity for Marvin Phillip and Cleon John to get a look in and widen the pool of goalkeepers that we can call upon for July.

The player I know has the mind-set to claw his way back into contention and his move to St Ann’s Rangers is smart and admirable.

It will also take more than this string of exclusions to leave Clyde Leon out of the running.

I welcome opinions like Liburd’s because it provokes thought and forces you to operate on your P’s and Q’s. This is the thing about football and team management; I bet Terry Fenwick or Stuart Charles-Fevrier will select teams that would differ from ours.

But where are the people who attacked me when I said only Pro League players will be selected? They have gone silent. It shows that damned if you do damned if you don’t. But revolutionaries always do.

The old Shabazz would cuss at the schizophrenic reference. The new Shabazz would take it in stride and try to explain his viewpoint.

Thank you, Wired868. Where else in the world would a media allow such interaction?


Editor’s Note: Read Lasana Liburd’s criticism of the Trinidad and Tobago squad selected by coaches Jamaal Shabazz and Hutson Charles here

Jason Marcano was added to the Trinidad and Tobago squad today as a replacement for unavailable midfielder Ataullah Guerra.

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About Jamaal Shabazz

Jamaal Shabazz
Jamaal Shabazz is the Guyana National Senior Team head coach, founder and technical director of Morvant Caledonia United and ex-head coach of the Trinidad and Tobago men's and women's senior teams. He helped steer T&T to second place at the 2012 Caribbean Cup, Guyana to an unprecedented 2014 World Cup qualifying semifinal berth and Caledonia to its first CFU Club Championship title in 2012. He is a member of the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen group that staged an unsuccessful coup in Trinidad in 1990.

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  1. U need your best players to go to the gold cup,Shabazz i haven’t seen much trials of foreign base players there is jlloyd samuel,jake thompson,justin hoyte,john bostock,cordell cato,andre boucard,kevan george and goalkeeper thorne holder. why are these players not been looked at i think they deserve a call up to the national team?

  2. Today you have given hope to youngsters that play in the super league and less by giving an explaination for your actions, everyone knows what i have said concerning the building of a new team, however, the approcah adopted has given me the confidence that the present team is fully prepared to move forward regardless of the negatives thrown at them when they make unpopular decisions.

    I am pleased at the decision to give these new names the chance to gain the experience needed. it is now up to them to accept the challenge with both hands (feet) and prove the decisions right. continue to go forward with your plans and may peace be on to you.

  3. Hi all!
    Firstly when I read Mr Liburd’s article, I was like waaw good point,true, right. Then in reading Mr Shabazz’s response article, initially I thought it was weak and Mr Liburd’s points had him covered, with no space to move. From the perspective that he’s a joint head coach in addition to the team having a technical director, slightly changes my perspective of him turning on a “five cent” and switching his policy conveniently.

    My view is after making such staunch comments, it’s really ‘tuff’ to come a few months after and make an opposing selection of your well documented policy, despite the reasons of not being in total control or else those comments shouldn’t be made unless this principle/policy was well revised with peers and superiors. It definitely sends mixed messages to the public and may confound the players and staff around you. I was disppointed when Teesdale wasn’t allowed in the squad for the final round of the Caribbean Cup as I thought he has proved himself in the Pro league in past seasons and often questioned his non selection, as I believed he could have made an impact which would have improved and aid the team.
    I’m also disappointed in Mr Liburd’s personal attack on Marcus. I know you can’t please everyone, but to say he made no impact in the Pro League when he was there or to convey that, I think it’s harsh. To also say he is non-committal isn’t cool neither, painting a portrait of him having no ambition by refusing Pro League teams and not being committed to the cause was too much on Marcus’ expense to bring home your point.

    Who know’s the actual thoughts of a man? I could assume that last year, football in Trinidad and Tobago seemed bleak, and the thought may have been this move is good for the long term as he’ll be playing for his hometown (team is esteemed in and in a few years returning by helping them back into the Pro League. He was getting a salary. The set-up at PFCC at present is anything but amateurish, comparable to most Pro League teams. You could investigate, the players were being well managed, scheduled training sessions on the pitch, gym work and pool sessions. There was a definite effort to culture the club into being professional as they would soon return to the Pro League. initially reading of him scoring in the SFA and exploiting teams, if not unchecked one can quickly trigger thoughts like what this promising youth doing here playing SFA with Civic Centre without the facts, but the club has rich history of its success in Trinidad and Tobago football and legends of T&T have played there, also contemporary known players, played there initially in there Youth Careers. To name a few Matthew Bartholomew and Aubrey David. I believe you know, but if you didn’t know it’s a proud club and there were ambitions to impact the nation again. I believe he adopted the club’s vision and mission and is now there. Yes, it’s in the lower tier of T&T football, but the picture was painted of the guy which I think is unfortunate even though the point is, Mr Shabazz’s selection, your trailing leg caught Marcus, which could do his public image no favours. I may seem to be commenting or fighting for nothing, but I feel strongly about this. Thank you for the opportunity to make an input towards the articles. In my honest opinion, a clear picture was painted and for those who don’t know the definite situation. I basically agree with most points made, the article was creative and funny, with the quotes.Both parties shared interesting opinions, some I agreed with an others not to much.

  4. Smh…… I am still TOTALLY disappointed in some of the explanations given. Seems like everyone here is given a “chance” and “exceptions” are being made for certain players and not others. I would give anything to feel that sense of pride that i experienced back in December when we qualified!…….You make an exception for an “Under-23 standout” who “chose” not to play at the highest level, yet you LEAVE OUT a National Captain who, while still training on a daily basis with national goal-keeping coach, ater being out for less than a month?!

    Didn’t Mr. Williams “take up the challenge to help an important part of our football history climb its way back up the local football ladder” by accepting the arduous (to say the least) challenge of being our National Captain and far exceeding expectations by helping to restore some iota of hope for Trinidad and Tobago football?!! Why wasn’t he given the “opportunity to show he can be an exception to the rule?” I remember reading articles after the matches where Mr. Shabazz was quoted as praising the efforts of the captain in helping to get the team to that place and now he inconsiderably states that he has the “mind-set to claw his way back into contention.”

    This is just unfortunate!……. My thing is, no matter what decisions are made by this ‘joint-body,’ let FAIRNESS prevail. Let’s not forget that there are people out here who, believe it or not, possess some sort of good reasoning. If you’re making ‘exceptions,’ let it be reasonable ones, if players are being pardoned, let it be on just grounds. Remember, transparency and accountability are key factors in trying to persuade Trinbagonians that the football is in good hands.

    PLEASE don’t let a group of players who NEVER turned their backs on their country at a time when everything was against them, who gave heart and soul, be sidelined/overlooked. PLEASE WAKE UP!!

    • In Mr Shabazz’s article, he stated that Jan Michael’s non inclusion could be seen as a chance for Cleon John to be around and stake his claim, as well as Phillip’s chance to build momentum, as there’s no question of Jan’s mental strength to claw his way back in, as he is attached to a club now. Which in the long term, could foster healthy competition, as he wasn’t ever written off from the team.

  5. Good on Shabazz for taking the time to explain himself. That is a welcome change from the usual stone silence we get from TTFF officials.

    Some like me still bewildered over Maturana’s very strange selection of players, and his inability to justify those selections.

    As for Marcus Joseph, I always liked this player’s game. With that world cup experience he is a naturally expected to compete well for the position. So step up to the crease and swing bro.

    And as for Jan Michael Williams…yuh might want to tread very lightly here. He is a good player with no drop in form.

  6. It was refreshing for me to hear both sides of this discussion and to see the mature and responsible manner in which opposing viewpoints were ventilated. The truth is, it has been a long time since I’ve seen contrasting views on sporting matters expressed in a spirit of mutual respect. Too often in our culture, differences degenerate into childish name-calling and personal insults.

    On this occasion, both Lasana and Shabazz presented arguments that were fair, rational and reasonable. I have not even chosen which side I am leaning towards and in this context, it doesn’t matter that much because of how the respective cases were presented. I applaud both gentlemen.

  7. In response to Shabazz’s article, I tried to think of a quality left sided winger in the Pro League. Defence Force’s Ross Russell Jr might grow into one but he isn’t there yet.
    Time will tell if Marcus Joseph is able to take a huge step up to the international stage at this juncture. But I do concede that there are very few left side attacking players in the local game and I accept the rationale behind that gamble if Joseph proves he is up to it.

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