BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Jan. 19, 2017–Some day we hope to find out what was wrong with our Belize Jaguars at the start of Tuesday’s Copa Centroamericana clash with El Salvador at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City, Panama. The Belize team looked lethargic, almost disoriented at the start of the match, and was simply overwhelmed by El Salvador’s swarming attack, out-numbering our midfield and defense every step of the way with aggressive player and ball movement, so that the goals seemed almost inevitable. Thank goodness, it was only 3-1.
There were a couple bright individual sparks for the Jaguars, most notably Denmark Casey’s fine feed, and Deon McCaulay’s clinical finish, as well as the splendid attacking thrusts by Gilroy “Bredda” Thurton following his long over-due entry into the game in late second half.
Our Belize Jaguars should be better at the start tomorrow against Nicaragua, because we can hardly be worse than we were on Tuesday against El Salvador. Our back is against the wall, and so is Nicaragua’s, and we both want to make it to the Gold Cup. We expect great energy from our team coming out on Friday, but we hope to also see a team plan to counter the out-numbering we have been facing in midfield by our opponents. Perhaps our front-runners need to relax and stall, until we can advance our other forces in unison to match their numbers, to force turnovers and more equal sharing of ball possession. We have to learn quickly; but who said that is not our trademark?
The problem for our Belize Jaguars, stems from the fact that we have not had any international friendlies to iron out these weaknesses that only become evident when we are subjected to top level competition, which is not yet available within our borders. The future, according to acting FFB President Marlon Kuylen, promises mandatory international friendlies with the assistance of FIFA. But for now, we have to make the adjustment “cold turkey.”
El Salvador 3:1 Belize
El Salvador – 15’ header; 20’ open play; 23’ header
Belize – 43’ open play (Deon McCaulay)
Belize line-up vs El Salvador: #1 Woodrow West (goalkeeper); #3 Trevor Lennen; #7 Ian Gaynair; #8 Elroy Smith; #18 Evral Trapp; #26 Michael Atkinson (#16 Jordy Polanco at 47’); #5 Elroy Kuylen (#20 Daniel Jimenez at 49’); #12 Denmark Casey; #13 Delone Torres (#29 Gilroy Thurton at 73’); #10 Michael Salazar; #9 Deon McCaulay. Head Coach – Richard Orlowski. Referee – Oscar Moncada (Honduras).
With two more games remaining for Belize in the Copa Centroamericana, five players on our team roster are yet to see action – #19 Luis Torres, #11 Jarret Davis, #28 Khalil Velasquez, #23 Tyrone Pandy and #27 Shane Orio. In a grueling tournament like this, 5 games in 10 days, fresh legs are important.
We got work to do. Le’s go, Jaguars!!!