BELIZE CITY, Wed. Apr. 1, 2015–While listing the teams that have qualified for the next round of the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers in the region on its website today, the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) noted the absence of star striker, Deon McCaulay, in Belize’s opening matches against the Cayman Islands national team.
In an article subtitled “No Deon, no goals for Belize,” FIFA referred to the omission of McCaulay as “one of the big surprises of the first round [of the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers].”
McCaulay – who plays club football in the United States for NASL’s Atlanta Silverbacks – was glorified for finishing the Brazil World Cup 2014 Qualifiers as “the top goal scorer worldwide, ahead of even superstars like Luis Suarez and Robin van Persie.”
In its criticism of the latest Belize Men’s National “A” Football Selection, known as Belize Jaguars, FIFA added that “what was not a surprise was how the Jaguars struggled to score without him [Deon]. They drew 0-0 at home and needed a stunner of a free-kick from Elroy Kuylen in the return leg to see off the Cayman Islanders and avoid disaster by the width of one slim away goal.”
Even though the Belize Jaguars is among seven teams that have advanced in the ongoing World Cup Qualifiers, there has been some speculation regarding the team’s ability to remain in the competition, and according to FIFA’s article, “it is hard to see into the future, but the smart money is on a recall for free-scoring McCaulay in the next round.”
That basically means that sporting fans, and sponsors alike, would not be prompted to place their bets/hopes on a team that is playing without its most prolific scorer.
Emotions have been running high ever since the announcement that McCaulay was not on the national team, and several people – including his father, veteran footballer, David “Manu” McCaulay, believe that it may be as a result of a fall-out that occurred in early 2014 between Deon and his former team manager, who is now a part of the FFB executive.
The day after Belize played to a nil-nil draw with the lowly Cayman Islands in the first game of the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers, McCaulay – in a phone interview with local media – said he would play in the game in a heartbeat if the FFB requested him.
If things can be worked out, and that is a very big if, McCaulay could be ready for Round Two when Belize goes up against “Los Quisqueyanos,” the Dominican Republic’s national team, on Monday, June 8, and Tuesday, June 16, 2015.
Also during the next round of matches, St. Vincent and the Grenadines will battle Guyana; Antigua and Barbuda will clash against St. Lucia; Puerto Rico will square off versus Grenada; Canada against Dominica; Guatemala will face Bermuda; Aruba goes up against Barbados; St. Kitts-Nevis against El Salvador; Curacao versus Cuba; and Nicaragua will face Suriname.