BELIZE CITY, Mon. Nov. 28, 2016–Race to the playoffs:
There have been tight playoff races before in Belize’s Premier League tournaments, but none within memory has been so suspenseful this late in the regular season. Two teams only have already secured spots in the playoffs – Belmopan Bandits SC and Belize Defense Force FC, presently at 39 points and 30 points, respectively. (See standings below.) For that reason, their clash this weekend in Week 18 will have little significance. But 4 other teams are in the hunt for the 2 remaining playoff berths.
At 22 points, many are counting out Placencia Assassins, although they are considered the favorite to win against Wagiya in their last game, which would put them at 25 points. If FC Belize, who had fallen in a terrible slump ever since their default loss to the Bandits, should lose to Freedom Fighters at the MCC this Sunday, Placencia would have the edge in goal difference. A Freedom Fighters victory against FC Belize is not far-fetched, either, considering that FC Belize also lost their Mexican sweeper Jordi Lopez to red card yesterday, and their Mexican striker Hector Lopez is till injured on the sidelines. And meanwhile, the Freedom Fighters are surging late, with a dramatic 3-3 draw against Belmopan Bandits last Wednesday, followed by a convincing 3-0 win over Wagiya yesterday.
But the game everyone will be watching is the Police United vs Verdes clash at the Norman Broaster Stadium, both their home turf. (We await word from the league, if this game will be moved to the new Santa Elena Stadium.) If Police beats Verdes, that would put Verdes out of the playoffs at 24 points only, and Police would be safely in at 28 points. If FC Belize wins against Freedom Fighters, that would also give them 28 points and secure a playoff spot. A draw would also secure a playoff spot for Police, while Verdes would have to watch the goal difference situations with Placencia and FC Belize, should Placencia win against Wagiya, and FC Belize lose to Freedom Fighters.
There are still a host of possibilities. It will all be decided in Week 18 games this weekend to end the regular season of the Premier League of Belize (PLB) Opening Season 2016-2017.