BELIZE CITY, Mon. Feb. 29, 2016–Defending champions Police United FC suffered their first loss of the Premier League of Belize (PLB) 2015-2016 Closing Season yesterday evening at the Norman Broaster Stadium in San Ignacio, where still undefeated arch-rivals Belmopan Bandits FC, who are in a tight race with them for the coveted Champions League berth this year, dealt Police a stunning 2-nil defeat. The game was shown live on TNC television station. Bandits capitalized on a mis-cue by Police defender Byron Usher, whose deflection of a Bandits cross goal pass, rolled invitingly into the path of advancing Bandits midfielder Amilton Filho, who calmly drove the ball to the open left side beyond the reach of a diving Jamie Brooks in goal for Police; 1-nil, Bandits at the 38th minute. The icing on the cake for Bandits came at the 78th minute from the penalty spot, where Marlon “El Matador” Meza converted, after referee Christopher Reid awarded a second yellow card to Police sweeper Frank Lopez for a foul tackle inside the eighteen. The second yellow card equaled a red ejection for Lopez, who will miss the next Police outing.
Notably on Sunday, Police was without the services of their Opening Season Best Coach, Hilberto Muschamp, who we understand was severely criticized by some of his management staff following the BDF’s come from behind 2-2 draw with them the previous Sunday at the MCC, where BDF was a man down from five minutes into the ball game. It was not as if there was a coaching blunder in that game. Police United have been slow learners of a style of football that Hilly had spent years developing in Placencia, now coached by his brother Roberto. If fences are not mended, and quickly, Police United may revert back to their run-and-gun style that has earned them a few “bridesmaid” finishes in the past. They would like to seal their Champions League berth with top combined points at the end of this regular season; if not, a back-to-back championship may be their only hope of taking the “iron bird.”
The Bandits, with newly acquired Shane Moody Orio in goal this season, have quietly racked up a string of 5 shutouts; while Police United had a visibly hobbled Jamie Brooks in goal on Sunday. The battle seasoned Jamie gave a splendid effort, but utilizing him before his complete recovery may spell problems later for the fickle Police coaching staff.
There are some “hungry” teams out there, and what looked like smooth sailing only a week ago for Police United, is now a brewing storm. Wagiya has only given up 2 goals total in their last 3 outings, which include a 1-0 win over Verdes FC, and are no longer the pushovers they seemed early in the season. BDF is a legitimate championship contender in this Closed Season, as is Placencia Assassins, and Verdes may still call up a couple of their registered foreign players to try and “save face” in a disappointing season. It promises to be exciting down the stretch in the race to the playoffs.
In the only other Week 6 game played over the weekend, it was Placencia Assasins, 1-0, over Wagiya at the Michael Ashcroft Stadium on Saturday night, on a second half strike by last season’s MVP, Luis “Baaka” Torres (67’). The BDF vs Verdes FC match scheduled for yesterday at the MCC Grounds in Belize City was reportedly cancelled due to inclement weather in the old capital. The league has not yet announced the new date for this back match.
Leading goleadors so far in the Closed Season, as released by the PLB secretariat, are: Devon Makin (Police United) – 4 goals; Marlon Meza (Belmopan Bandits), Harrison Tasher (BDF) and Luis Torres (Placencia Assassins) – 3 goals each; and Danny Jimenez and Elio Ramirez (Police United), Elroy Smith (Belmopan Bandits), Vallan Symms (BDF), Ashley Torres (Placencia Assassins), and Nahjib Guerra (Verdes FC) – 2 goals each. Twenty-two players, including last season’s Most Goals, Deon McCaulay of Verdes FC, have scored 1 goal apiece.
Upcoming Week 7 schedule:
Saturday, March 5
7:30 p.m. – Wagiya FC vs Police United FC – Michael Ashcroft Stadium
Sunday, March 6
4:00 p.m. – Verdes FC vs Placencia Assassins FC – Norman Broaster Stadium
4:00 p.m. – Belmopan Bandits FC vs BDF FC – FFB Stadium