Sports — 29 August 2014 — by Kareem Clarke
Belize Jaguars prepare for Nations Cup

BELMOPAN–While the dust settles concerning the Football Federation of Belize (FFB)’s myriad of internal tangles, the country’s Men’s National “A” football selection, known as the Belize Jaguars, including international superstriker Deon McCaulay, and newly reinstated veteran Costa Rican coach, Leroy Sherrier-Lewis, is currently in preparation for an appearance in the upcoming Copa Centro Americana, or Nations Cup, the tournament which enabled the Jaguars to qualify for their first ever Gold Cup outing last year.

One of the wrinkles that had been troubling FFB President Ruperto Vicente is the lack of an affordable coach, but after going back and forth with other international coaches, he managed to procure the popular Leroy Sherrier-Lewis, who is certainly no stranger to Belize or to the Federation’s historical shortcomings.

Lewis has aborted the league twice in his capacity as national team coach; however, he is now back at the helm, after being given the green light by President Vicente.

After a meeting with FIFA and CONCACAF officials who had come to “clean up” the shortfalls of the Federation yesterday, Vicente, who explained that the FFB basically had to sit and wait until they could have gotten a coach that is “reasonable economically,” since most international coaches require between US$10,000 – 15,000 per month, said, “We got a coach from Mexico who came in to work with us, and he was costing like US$2,000 per month, and so when we gave him the job he came and started working; but eventually he got frustrated because he thought that the players wouldn’t show up for practice, and so he left. Coach Lewis was here, and he said that he’s prepared to work with the national team, and not having anything against him – you know, I’ve always had the highest of respect for him, and so I immediately said, well, let’s go with you. If you are prepared to coach our team once again, I have no difficulty with that; so he took on the job.”

Leroy Sherrier-Lewis also has a gig as the coach of the Belmopan Bandits, who has won as champions of the Premier League of Belize (PLB) tournament for the last two seasons under his leadership.

Nevertheless, the national selection’s prospects have been known to be overshadowed by constraints such as the realities of lack of resources, lack of money and lack of preparation time; but this time, our “re-imported” superstar footballer, Deon McCaulay, who said that he was excited to play again for his country and people, told the media that, with the international experience he has gained so far, he is ready to go out there and put everything on the line in an effort to make it to the Gold Cup tournament once more.

The Atlanta Silverbacks, the team with whom McCaulay currently plays in the United States, recently bid him well and highlighted his feat of scoring a combined total of 11 goals along with Junior Burgos during the NASL season and the Open Cup which was held this year on their official website.

Evan Mariano, who had also been playing for a US-based football club, is also in the country along with well known goalkeeper, Shane Orio, who explained to our colleagues at Plus TV that he sat out last year’s tournament because the team with which he was playing in Honduras opted not to provide him with a temporary release to represent his country at the tournament.

Orio will be playing alongside Woodrow West, who rose to stardom during the 2013 tournament in Costa Rica, and then in the Gold Cup qualifiers thereafter, as he took charge of the team on several occasions, while making miraculous saves, to the disenchantment of our opponents.

Due to the challenges associated with the football pitch at the FFB Stadium, the team is currently practicing at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium, also in Belmopan, with their new head coach.

The Central American (Nation’s) Cup will be played at four different venues in the United States, starting from September 3 and concluding on September 13, 2014.

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