After a hectic few days of back matches and the final Week 14 regular season games yesterday, 4 teams are now gearing up for the start of the Premier League of Belize Belikin Cup Opening Season 2013-2014 home-and-away semifinal playoffs, which kick off this weekend.
Two critical back matches
With the race to the playoffs as tight as ever, two critical back matches were scheduled for last week Wednesday night, before the scheduled Week 14 regular season games to end the regular season on Saturday night. But again the weather had a hand in the occurrences, as only one back match (from Week 13) was played on Wednesday night, January 8, at the FFB Stadium, and it was a 0-0 draw between Belmopan Bandits FC and Belize Defence Force FC.
The (Week 10) back match between Verdes FC and Police United FC was postponed to Thursday due to bad field conditions at the Marshalleck Stadium; but again on Thursday night, the field was declared unplayable, and many fans anticipated that the game would be played sometime in the following week. But in a strange turn of events on Friday, word got out that the League had determined that this back match had to be played before the final Week 14 games. With playoff qualification in the balance for a number of teams, the back match was hastily staged on Friday night, January 10, at the Marshalleck, and it proved “the end of the road” for Police United, who could only muster a 1-1 draw, coming from behind, in fact, against home standing Verdes FC. Richard “Cheety” Jimenez (33’) put Verdes in front, and Clifton West (53’) equalized for Police.
Stage set for Week 14 Sunday games
The PLB then pushed back the Saturday night Week 14 schedule to Sunday night at 7:00 p.m., to satisfy the FIFA requirement of at least 48 hours rest for players between games.
Going into Sunday night’s encounters, Police United FC and San Ignacio United FC were already out of the playoff race; but their game was still important, as the cumulative points from this and the next Closing Season will determine which team represents the Jewel in the CONCACAF Champions League.
But Sunday’s Week 14 final regular season games were important for an additional reason, as there was also another matter to be decided – the regular season Most Goals title. FC Belize’s schedule was finished, and they were looking on and praying for favorable results to secure their position in the top-4; but their top striker, Jarret Davis was also leading all other goal scorers with 7 goals, and he was being trailed by 3 players with 5 goals each, one of those being Police United’s Clifton West.
The Verdes FC vs Belmopan Bandits FC match at the Marshalleck Stadium on Sunday ended in a 0-0 stalemate, sealing Verdes as the #1 seed going into the playoffs.
Meanwhile, at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium, it was Police United, 3-1, over San Ignacio United, with all 3 Police goals coming from Clifton West (5’, 54’ & 67’), who thus clinched the Most Goals crown for this season. Eric Guzman (53’) got the only goal for San Ignacio.
And down south at the Carl Ramos Stadium, in a game that Paradise/Freedom Fighters needed to win to clinch a playoff spot, they took a 1-nil lead, courtesy of Alexander “Pleck” Peters (50’); but in a controversial development at the 80th minute, Ambrose Thomas equalized for Belize Defence Force, for the 1-1 final score, effectively dashing the playoff hopes of P.G. fans.
Regular season over
Numbers don’t lie, and the final regular season standings tell the story of what few would argue was the most competitive semi-pro regular season ever. The top 4 teams will go on to the semifinal playoffs.
Semifinal playoff schedule:
Saturday, January 18
7:30 p.m. – Belmopan Bandits FC vs Belize Defence Force FC – Isidoro Beaton Stadium
Sunday, January 19
4:00 p.m. – FC Belize vs Verdes FC – MCC Grounds
Saturday, January 25
7:30 p.m. – Belize Defence Force FC vs Belmopan Bandits FC – Carl Ramos Stadium
7:30 p.m. – Verdes FC vs FC Belize – Marshalleck Stadium