LADYVILLE–Notwithstanding their traditional hurdles in terms of preparation and financing, the National Men’s Football “A” Selection, affectionately known as the Belize Jaguars, left the country today to partake in the Nations Cup tournament which kicks off in the United States this Wednesday, September 3.
Amandala was at the Philip Goldson International Airport this morning as they were preparing to board their flight, and we spoke to a few of the enthusiastic players who were all in good spirits, and they basically gave us the indication that despite their challenges, the team is prepared to go out and do their best in order to hopefully advance throughout the tournament and make their country proud once more.
Evan Mariano, who has gained additional international exposure since he got an opportunity to play for a team from Houston earlier this year, said, “I feel confident enough, during the two weeks that we had training, it was really intense, and I believe that the coach put us in enough shape to play these games. We did it already in Costa Rica, and we plan to do it again under the same coach. We will go out there and play our hearts out, and we just want everybody to watch the games and support us, regardless of the outcome.”
Belizean superstriker Deon McCaulay, who currently plays for the US-based Atlanta Silverbacks, has only been here for one week of training with his Belizean counterparts, but he is confident, nonetheless, that the team will perform well in the tournament.
He said, “I feel that the team is unified, maybe not as before, but we are trying to work on getting the team spirit back together. With the experience that we have with our head coach, I feel that we will do very good again under him. I want to thank Belize for all their support. We know that it is not going to be easy for us, but I think that with the support of the country, we will do good.”
Woodrow West, who has gained commendable international recognition during Belize’s appearances at the Nations Cup and Gold Cup tournaments last year, told us that he feels excited, and that he has been looking forward to the tournament.
“Although we are in a hard group, we still believe that we could do it. I’m ready to play and give my team 110 percent whenever they call on me,” he explained.
Ian Gaynair scored an international goal for Belize in a game against the USA during last year’s Gold Cup, but he said that, while he will be sitting out the first game, he will be coming with all his energies for the second game. His message was: “Stay tuned to your television sets and continue to support us because we appreciate it, since the football fans are all we have to push us; so we will continue to do good, so that they are always there for us.”
As for the head coach, Costa Rican Leroy Sherrier-Lewis, he believes that the team is ready to go out and make Belizean football fans proud for another consecutive year.
He stated, “Right now, our team is good, and our players are okay; so we want to do a better job than we did last time. These Belizeans are very good players, and they have a lot of determination, so that makes my work easier. What I did was to pick the 21 players that had the most determination and desire, and I must say that they are very proud to represent their country.”
The team will play their first game against Honduras in Washington on September 3.