BELIZE CITY, Mon. May 6, 2018– Despite the controversy, the game must go on, said the PLB (Premier League of Belize), and yesterday evening at the Norman Broaster Stadium in San Ignacio, game 1 of the Finals for the PLB 2017-2018 Closing Season Championship saw home standing Verdes FC take the lead on a header by Alcides “Paco” Thomas (47+’) near the end of first half; but midway through second half, visiting Belmopan Bandits SC got the equalizer through young defender Norman Anderson (67’); and that’s how it ended, 1-1.
The championship will be decided in the Final Game 2 this Saturday at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium in Belmopan. As in the semis, if there is an aggregate tie at the end of regulation on Saturday, then the “away goal rule” takes effect. If there is then still a tie, overtime would have to be played.
CONCACAF League berth
There is more at stake than only the PLB 2017-2018 Closing Season championship on Saturday. The Opening Season champion is Verdes FC. According to CONCACAF rules, if there is a different champion in our Closing Season, then the single berth for Belize in the CONCACAF League tournament would go to the champion that garnered the most points between the Opening and Closing regular seasons combined. That aggregate tally has already been done, and Belmopan Bandits SC has the most points by far. (See our Amandala Sports aggregate regular season standings below.) So, if the Bandits should emerge victorious on Saturday, the CONCACAF berth would be theirs. For Verdes to claim that spot in CONCACAF, they must become back-to-back champions.
What’s in the stars?
Kriol say, “God no like ugly;” but, in fairness, the Verdes squad is not to be blamed for what transpired a couple Sundays ago. They played their hearts out against tremendous odds, and came out with a big, though controversial, victory. Whoever wins on Saturday, let us celebrate the champion. “Bon fire” on those who messed up, and demand answers and changes to avoid a reoccurrence.
Almost to the day, a year ago on Saturday, May 13, after they had drawn 0-0 in game 1 the previous week, the Belmopan Bandits SC edged Verdes FC, 1-0, to take the 2016-2017 Closing Season championship at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium. Verdes rebounded to win the 2017-2018 Opening Season, but only through the “away goal rule,” after their aggregate 2-2 tie, Verdes winning game 1 by a 1-0 margin, and Bandits winning at home 2-1 in game 2.
A 0-0 score at Isidoro Beaton this Saturday would give Bandits the championship on the away goal rule. Verdes needs to score, preferably early, like they did against BDF. Can the Bandits maintain their unbeaten record against Verdes at the Isidoro Beaton; or will Verdes make good on their third attempt to drop the Bandits on their home turf?