Sports — 21 December 2016
Home teams prevail, Bandits over FC Belize, and BDF over Police in PLB Semifinals

BELIZE CITY, Mon. Dec. 19, 2016 — The fabled home-court advantage played a big role in both games over the weekend to determine which two teams would make it to the finals of the Premier League of Belize (PLB) Opening Season 2016-2017. The first leg of the semifinals had been played the previous weekend, when #3 seed Police United dropped #2 seed BDF, 3-1, at the Norman Broaster Stadium; and #1 seed Belmopan Bandits came from behind jairo-rochez-img_0389to secure a 1-1 draw against #4 seed FC Belize at the MCC Grounds. This past Saturday night, the Bandits were at home for the decisive game 2 at their Isidoro Beaton Stadium; while BDF returned to their home base at the MCC Garden to attempt the herculean task of surmounting the 3-1 advantage held by visiting Police United. And there was celebration for the home fans at both venues.

On Saturday night in Belmopan, a 22nd minute strike by top regular season goal scorer, Honduran Jairo Rochez, was enough to give home standing Belmopan Bandits the 1-nil win over FC Belize, and a spot in the finals. The victory kept the Bandits’ undefeated streak alive, but in the finals they will be without key veteran striker Elroy Kuylen, who received a red card shortly after entering the ball game on Saturday. As #1 seed in regular season, the Bandits will again get to play their home game last in the championship home-and-away series.

Their opponents in the finals was expected to be 3rd seed Police United, who sported a commanding 3-1 lead going into the start of their game yesterday at the MCC Grounds against BDF. Indeed, a loyal Bandits custodian had reminded us on Saturday night, that they were 3 for 3 against Police in finals series; so they saw history repeating itself.

But, somebody forgot to inform the BDF squad, who had other ideas about the finals. And they gave Belize City fans a sensational treat on Sunday afternoon at the MCC, with a spectacular 2-nil victory over Police United, to claim a spot in the finals with the away goal tie-breaker after the 3-3 aggregate tie. Orland Trapp’s drive inside the eighteen led to the penalty which Vallan Symms converted at the 51st minute; and second half substitute Kyle Budna struck for the series clincher with time winding down at the 87th minute. And just like that, a shocking defeat for Police United, and a joyous celebration for the indomitable spirit of a BDF squad that, with all home-grown players, are now eager to lock horns with the star studded and internationally enhanced Belmopan Bandits SC.

The league has a meeting with the teams planned for tomorrow, Tuesday, to decide the scheduled dates for the championship series. BDF has the first home game at the MCC; and the Bandits will host the final game at their Isidoro Beaton. Some folks are suggesting Christmas Day for game 1; others say that is for family get together, and Boxing Day is better for the outing. We should know sometime tomorrow. What a season!

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Eden Cruz

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