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The `Golden Jaguars' find themselves in a must-win situation today when they come up against Cuba in a fixture of the 2006/7 Digicel Caribbean Cup Football Tournament at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella, Trinidad and Tobago.

However, Technical Director of the Guyanese team, Trinidadian Jamal Shabazz feels the team from the `Mudland' has an opportunity to make a huge statement in Caribbean football.

Speaking to Stabroek Sport by telephone yesterday from Trinidad, the technical director said, "tomorrow's (today's) game is not just a football match. Cuba is a powerful Caribbean nation so Guyana will have an opportunity to stamp its authority in Caribbean football."

"We need to win against Cuba to go through; the top two teams will advance to the semi-finals and be in with a chance of reaching the CONCACAF Gold Cup which is billed for the United States later in the year."

He said at the moment all four teams in the Bobby Sookram Group of which Guyana is a member have three points each from one win apiece, but Cuba has the best goal difference.

He pointed out that Cuba has two goals clear when it comes to goal difference, while Guyana and St. Vincent and the Grenadines both have a minus one goal difference.

He added that Guadeloupe on the other hand has a zero goal difference.

On Tuesday, the `Golden Jaguars' edged Guadeloupe 4-3 in what has been reported to be the most exciting game of the competition to date.

Nigel Codrington netted a treble while Howard Lowe supported with one goal.

On Sunday, the local ball weavers went down to St. Vincent and the Grenadines by a 0-2 margin. It was their first loss in 16 matches.

Codrington is currently the leading goal scorer in the competition with 11 goals to his credit.

"We're going to take the game to the Cubans tomorrow (today) like we did in all our other matches. Yesterday (Tuesday) we gambled by adding Gregory (Richardson) to the strike line with Codrington and the gamble paid off. So come tomorrow (today), we'll fight from the start to the end. Cuba is easily the best organized team in the cosmpetition, but our forwards are speedy and can get around their defence. So we'll take our chances," Shabazz stated.

The Trinidadian said the Guyanese got tremendous support from the Guyanese population in Trinidad. "It was one time that the Guyanese living legally and illegally in Trinidad came out in their numbers to support their own. The illegal ones forgot about immigration and came out and we need that kind of support tomorrow (today) again."

Asked if the Guyanese played according to plan on Tuesday, Shabazz said, "sometimes nothing goes to plan. We took a risk by using three strikers and it worked for us. We scored four times and gave away three, but their last goal was questionable. I'm satisfied that we took a risk and it worked for us. It was a special moment for us and all Guyana. If ever I felt like a Guyanese, it was last night (Tuesday)."

Source: Stabroek News

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