BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Apr. 26, 2018– Both top seeds in the Premier League of Belize (PLB) 2017-2018 Closing Season got a wake-up call last weekend in the 1st leg of the home-and-away semifinals. #1 seed Belmopan Bandits SC barely salvaged a 2-2 draw in injury time against #4 seed Police United FC; and #2 seed defending champions Verdes FC were shocked, 2-nil, by #3 seed BDF FC/
Approaching game 2 of the semifinals
Though the last half of this regular season has proven that there is parity in the PLB, these opening semifinals results were a bit surprising. Consider that, only the previous weekend in the final game of regular season, Police United had been bombed, 7-1, by Verdes; and the Bandits had pretty much “owned” Police, beating them twice, 2-1 and 2-0, in regular season play; while Verdes had cruised to 3-1 and 2-1 victories over BDF in their regular season encounters. But the playoffs are the playoffs; the re-set button erases all achievements in regular season, where advancing to the championship is concerned.
The finalists will be decided in the semifinals 2nd leg this coming weekend, and it is important for fans to understand the rules governing the scores to determine the series winner.
The aggregate score
First of all, the “aggregate score” rule takes precedence, which means that at the end of regulation time in the 2nd leg game, the total number of goals scored by each team is compared, and the team with the greatest aggregate score is declared the winner. Whoever wins at Isidoro Beaton on Saturday night will go on to the finals. Meanwhile, at the Norman Broaster, a draw or even a loss by a 1 goal margin would still put BDF in the finals, e.g. a 2-1 loss to Verdes in game 2 would result in a BDF aggregate 3-2 victory. A 3-0 win by Verdes on Sunday would make them the 3-2 aggregate winner.
The away-goal rule
But if the aggregate score is tied after game 2 (e.g. if Verdes wins 3-1 at home, leading to a 3-3 aggregate score; or Bandits ties 1-1 with Police this weekend, also resulting in a 3-3 aggregate score), then, and only then, the “away goal rule” would come into effect. In such a case of an aggregate tie, 2 points are given for every goal scored “away,” and the team with most points is then declared the winner. In game 2, the Bandits and Verdes are both playing “at home.”
Game 1 between Bandits and Police was Police United’s “home” game; game 2 will be the Bandits’ “home” game. So, in the scenario above (1-1 in game 2), Bandits would have accrued 5 points (2 away goals x 2, plus 1 home goal = 5 pts), and Police United would have only 4 points (2 home goals, plus 1 x 2 away goals = 4 pts). So the Bandits would be the winner in regulation, 5-4, by the away-goal rule.
And with the Verdes vs BDF matchup, the game 2 scenario above (a 3-1 Verdes win) would give BDF 5 points (2 home goals, plus 1 away goal x 2 = 4 pts), while Verdes would have only 3 pts (0 away goals, plus 3 home goals = 3 pts). So BDF would be the 4-3 series winner by the away-goal rule. But if Verdes wins 2-0 at home this Sunday, for a 2-2 aggregate tie, they would still be tied when the away-goal rule takes effect, since each would have no “away” goals and only 2 “home” goals each. Overtime would be required; and then penalties, if necessary. So, Verdes needs a 2-0 win just to force overtime, or at least a 3-goal margin of victory in game 2 to prevail in the series.
A ticket to the “Big Dance” is on the line for all 4 teams in game 2 of the PLB semifinals this weekend:
Saturday, April 28
8:00 p.m. – Belmopan Bandits SC vs Police United FC – Isidoro Beaton Stadium
Sunday, April 29
4:00 p.m. – Verdes FC vs BDF FC – Norman Broaster Stadium