Sports — 21 February 2018
Near half-way point in regular season, PLB race to playoffs looks interesting

BELIZE CITY, Mon. Feb. 19, 2018– With the completion of Week 6 games over the past weekend, the playoff picture is looking interesting in the Premier League of Belize (PLB) 2017-2018 Opening Season, as 7 of the 8 clubs are still in good position to claim one of the four playoff berths. A victory for Wagiya FC (which would be an upset) against undefeated Belmopan Bandits SC in their back match on Wednesday, would also put Wagiya in striking distance of a playoff spot.

On Saturday night at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium, league leading Verdes FC and host Belmopan Bandits SC played to a 1-1 draw in a well contested match that saw both goals occurring in a 3-minute span. After a scoreless first half, newly inserted Honduran striker Georgie Welcome “set the table” for countryman Darwin Bermudez to open the scoring at the 47th minute with a left foot blast from the top of the eighteen that eluded Zeron Sagastume in goal for Verdes; but “the Green Machine” replied shortly afterwards, when their Brazilian right midfielder Rodolfo Silva’s long cross-field pass found fellow Brazilian Alcides “Paco” Thomas streaking down the left wing, and Paco beat the oncoming Shane Orio from close range to level the score at the 50th minute.

On Sunday afternoon at the Ambergris Stadium, San Pedro Pirates FC won their third straight match, as they handed visiting Freedom Fighters FC a 4-1 beating. Inri Gonzaga gave the Pirates the lead at the 25th minute; Gabriel Ramos equalized for Freedom Fighters at the 43rd; but the Pirates’ Luis Mencia then exploded for 3 goals (45’, 49’ & 56’) to secure the 4-1 win that pushed the Pirates up to third place in the standings. (See Week 6 Standings below.)

Also on Sunday, at the Carl Ramos Stadium, it was 1-1 between Wagiya FC and visiting Placencia Assassins FC. Jonard Castillo (29’) gave the home team the first half lead; but Placencia got the second half equalizer through Luis “Baaka” Torres (72’).

The last game on Sunday, originally scheduled for 5:00 p.m. at the FFB Stadium, was moved to the Isidoro Beaton Stadium for an 8:00 p.m. kickoff. And in a see-saw affair, it was the host, BDF FC coming away with the 3-2 win over Police United FC. Trimayne Harris converted a penalty at the 15th minute to give BDF the early lead; but Amin “Tacos” August, Jr. unleashed a rocket from a direct kick to tie things up at the 35th minute. Both goalkeepers worked hard in this one, with Police United’s keeper Rodrigo Vasquez leaving his sticks to convert a penalty and put his team in front at the 53rd minute. But BDF equalized through Mark Arzu’s close range blast (71’) from a scramble in front of goal; and then got the game winner from a low right-foot missile from the edge of the eighteen by Keithon Dyer at the 74th minute.

With the changing picture that these results created in the standings (see below), the possibilities in this tournament are getting more and more interesting, starting with Week 7 match-ups. (Bandits and Wagiya play a back match on Wednesday.) After the 14-game double round-robin regular season, the top 4 teams go on to the home-and-away semifinals.

Upcoming Week 7 schedule:
Saturday, February 24
7:30 p.m. – Placencia Assassins FC vs Freedom Fighters FC – M.A. Stadium
8:00 p.m. – Belmopan Bandits SC vs BDF FC – Isidoro Beaton Stadium
Sunday, February 25
3:00 p.m. – San Pedro Pirates FC vs Wagiya FC – Ambergris Stadium
5:00 p.m. – Police United FC vs Verdes FC – Isidoro Beaton Stadium

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Deshawn Swasey

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