At a press conference this afternoon at the Toucan B Room of the Best Western Biltmore Plaza Hotel in Belize City, the National Team Committee of the Football Federation of Belize (FFB) announced the final list of 20 players comprising the National “A” Team that will represent Belize at the Copa Centroamericana 2013 (formerly Nations Cup), the qualifying tournament for the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
National Team Committee member Onan McClean was master of ceremonies, and seated at the head table were the Assistant Coach, Charlie Slusher; Head Coach, Le Roy Sherrier Lewis; Team Co-Captain, Dalton Eiley; Committee Chairman, FFB Vice-President, Rawel Pelayo; and Team Manager, Dean Flowers.
7 Central American countries will participate in the Copa Centroamericana, which commences on January 18 in host country Costa Rica. 5 of those 7 will qualify to the Gold Cup, and Belize’s national coach Le Roy Sherrier Lewis said he feels very good about Belize’s chances at qualifying.
Before announcing the names of the 20 players on the National Team, M.C. Onan McClean informed the gathering that the budget to get the National Team to Costa Rica for the Copa Centroamericana is in the neighborhood of Bze $200,000.00; and he was happy to announce that the National Team has secured two corporate sponsors to assist in the endeavor – Belize Telemedia Limited and The Belize Bank.
McClean said that, after Lewis was appointed National Coach at the start of October of 2012, he spent that month touring the whole country and observing the talent available at regional tryouts. 30 players were selected and began training 3 days weekly at the FFB facility during the month of November. This number was reduced to 26 for 4-day weekly training during December. And the final 20 players selected to the National “A” Team were confined to camp full time, beginning today, Wednesday, at the FFB facility in preparation for the Copa Centroamericana.
In somewhat of a departure from tradition here, McClean said that in the future the National Team will not be dormant when there are no tournaments. “FIFA has a calendar for which there will be friendly matches,” and the FFB will be negotiating dates for these friendly matches, both at home and abroad, throughout the year. And this includes the National Women Team as well as U-20 and U-16 national teams.
Sherrier Lewis, who served briefly as our national coach back in 2001, said that at that time he was only able to visit Belize City; but this time around, he has toured the whole country, and he is very impressed with the abundant football talent in Belize. He thinks we have a very good selection, although he did remark that a few young talents he personally approached, notably Gilroy “Bredda” Thurton of R.G. City Boys United and Denmark Casey, Jr., of Belmopan Bandits, were not interested in trying out for the National Team. Committee Chairman and FFB Vice-President Rawel Pelayo commented that a number of players across the country are still affected by the “Chimilio” stigma that surrounds the FFB. Hopefully, this new launching of the National Team will help to erase that negative image. Sherrier Lewis said that the door remains open for interested players who want to try-out for the National “A” Team as well as for the National U-20 and other national teams.
National “A” Team players
Goalkeepers – WOODROW WEST; FRANK LOPEZ.
Defence – IAN GAYNAIR; ELROY SMITH (*co-captain); TYRONE PANDY; DALTON EILEY, JR. (*co-captain); EVRAL TRAPP; SHANNON FLOWERS.
Forward – DEON McCAULAY; HARRISON ROCHES; RUSSEL CASSANOVA; EVAN MARIANO.
Midfield – DEVON MAKIN; ANDRES MAKIN, JR.; ASHLEY TORRES; DELONE TORRES; SAN LEOBARDO MENDEZ; JEROMY JAMES; CRISTOBAL GILHARRY; TREVOR LENNON.
(*Coach Sherrier Lewis explained that when there is a Spanish speaking referee, Elroy Smith will act as captain; and when the referee is English speaking, Dalton Eiley, Jr. will be team captain.)
National Team games schedule
In preparation for the upcoming tournament, the National Team will be playing 3 “Friendlies” in the coming week: at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, January 4, against Trigillos of Mexico; at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 6, against Club Deportivo Platense of Honduras; and at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 8, against PLB champion, Belmopan Bandits. All games will be at the FFB Stadium.
At the Copa Centroamericana, Belize plays host Costa Rica on January 18, Guatemala on January 20, and Nicaragua on January 22.
With these few preparation games and the short time remaining for the Copa Centroamericana, Belizeans will nevertheless be hoping and praying for the success of our National Team later this month in Costa Rica. “Cungo,” Belize!