Sports — 15 March 2017

PLB playoff race heats up

BELIZE CITY, Mon. Mar. 13, 2017–At the end of Week 8 in the Premier League of Belize (PLB) 2016-2017 Closing Season, it is again shaping up to be a rough ride for a number of teams in their quest of a spot in the Top-4 playoffs. Only the champs, Belmopan Bandits, seem assured of their playoff berth, as 5 other teams are in contention for the remaining 3 spots. (See standings below.)

In the only Saturday night game in Week 8, Verdes FC got a 48th minute goal from John King, and it proved enough to secure the 1-nil victory over hosts, Placencia Assassins at their home field in Independence.

Shane-Orio1

The most anticipated weekend clash was in the old capital on Sunday, where slow-starting FC Belize has recently been finding their stride, and making a determined run to make the playoffs. They had started their comeback campaign with a big home win against then undefeated Police United, and yesterday the only remaining undefeated team, the Bandits, were coming to town.

It was an exciting match, from whistle to whistle, but defending champions, Belmopan Bandits SC kept their undefeated record intact yesterday at the MCC Grounds in Belize City, where they rebounded from a 1-nil FC Belize lead in first half to tie things up at 1-1 before half-time, and it stayed that way until the long whistle. Home standing FC Belize were awarded a penalty at the 35th minute, when their striker Russell Cassanova was tripped just inside the eighteen by Bandits goalkeeper Shane Orio; and FC Belize’s talented Mexican striker Hector Martinez converted from a standing position, with no approach, beating a diving Shane in the left corner. But the Bandits threatened the FC Belize goal at least three times, before right midfielder Jerome “Jarro” James slammed in a grounder to the right corner at the 44th minute, after Denmark Casey’s free kick from the left side eluded all defenders and drained to the right side for the approaching Jarro. Both goalkeepers worked hard in this one, with FC Belize’s Rodrigo Vasquez making the save of the game late in second half, diving high to tip a Jarro header just over the cross bar.

Also on Sunday, at the Norman Broaster Stadium in San Ignacio, Police United FC dropped visiting Freedom Fighters FC from P.G., 4-1, with 2 goals from Danny Jimenez (71’ & 73’) and 1 each from Andres “J.R.” Makin (4’) and Carlton “Fubu” Thomas (32’). Freedom Fighters’ sole tally was by Alexander “Pleck” Peters (45’). Hector-Martinez,-IMG_0891

Meanwhile, at the Carl Ramos Stadium in Dangriga, young Wagiya FC climbed out of last place in the standings by following their first win last week, with an impressive 2-2 draw against the powerful BDF FC. BDF took the lead early on a goal by Darrol Lambey (13’), but Wagiya quickly replied through Latrell Middleton (17’) and then took the lead, 2-1, with a goal from Ernest “Dubu” Flores (44’). But the young home team could not hold on to the lead, as Brian Martinez (86’ PK) equalized from the penalty spot for BDF.

Premier League of Belize Closing Season 2016-2017
       Week #7 Standings at Sunday, March 5, 2017
TEAM G W D L GF GA Diff Pts
Belmopan Bandits SC 8 6 2 0 23 3 20 20
Verdes FC 8 4 2 2 12 12 0 14
BDF FC 8 3 4 1 18 9 9 13
Police United FC 8 3 4 1 14 8 6 13
Placencia Assassins FC 8 3 1 4 10 11 -1 10
FC Belize 7 2 2 3 8 8 0 8
Wagiya FC 7 1 1 5 10 30 -20 4
Freedom Fighters FC 8 1 0 7 7 21 -14 3
(Week 2 back match remains between FC Belize and Wagiya.)

Upcoming Week 9 games:
Saturday, March 18
7:30 p.m. – Placencia Assassins FC vs BDF FC – M.A. Stadium
7:30 p.m. – Belmopan Bandits SC vs Police United FC – Isidoro Beaton Stadium
Sunday, March 19
4:00 p.m. – FC Belize vs Wagiya FC – MCC Grounds
4:00 p.m. – Verdes FC vs Freedom Fighters FC – Norman Broaster Stadium

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Eden Cruz