BELIZE CITY, Mon. Jan. 30, 2017–Without much fanfare, the Premier League of Belize (PLB) kicked off its 2016-2017 Closing Season over the past weekend with Week 1 games at four different venues, where all 8 participating teams saw action. Orange Walk United, which made its first entry in the PLB Opening Season, where it finished at the bottom of the standings, has declined participating in the Closing Season.
Out west at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium on Saturday night, defending champion Belmopan Bandits SC clipped visiting FC Belize, 1-nil, on a goal by captain Elroy Smith. Despite still experiencing financing problems, FC Belize, under the leadership of veteran Mark “Kelo” Leslie and head coach David “Manu” McCaulay, remains a strong defensive team; and the Bandits are satisfied with the victory to start the season against an adversary that held them to a scoreless draw to start the previous Opening Season.
On Sunday, further west at the Norman Broaster Stadium, Luis “Baaka” Torres (15’) gave visiting Placencia Assassins a 1-nil lead, but homestanding Verdes FC recovered quickly with goals from Gilroy “Bredda” Thurton (23’) and Jarret Davis (41’) to take the 2-1 lead, which remained the score till the end of regulation. Meanwhile, down south at the Victor Galvez Union Field in Punta Gorda, it was visiting Police United under new head coach Aaron “Gambis” Gamboa, coming away with the 3-nil win over P.G.’s Freedom Fighters FC. All Police goals came in second half, from Franz Vernon (56’), Carlton “Fubu” Thomas (80’) and Devon Makin (85’). Also on Sunday, the MCC Grounds in Belize City witnessed the “coming out party” of new BDF recruit, Brian Martinez, fresh off capturing the goal scoring title in the recently completed CYDP Peace Cup Tournament. Martinez, who entered the game for BDF in second half, registered a hat trick in his first outing (49’, 52’ & 87’), while Raymond Ramos (29’) opened the scoring in first half, and Osmar Duran (75’ & 90’) added two more for the 6-nil shelling of the young Wagiya squad from Dangriga.
Opening Season sub-champions BDF are renowned for their consistently strong defense, and the addition of Martinez may prove the missing piece of their attacking puzzle, which has previously put undue burden on Osmar Duran and Trimayne Harris. Harris “set the table” for Martinez’s first goal with a perfect cross-goal pass from the right goal line; and if the chemistry develops, there should be more goals from this BDF attack than we have been used to. Martinez will surely be tested, and will be challenged to prove this is no “flash in the pan” performance. He once had a few appearances with FC Belize a few years ago, but things did not go so well. We’ll see if the seasoning in the amateur league has given Brian the experience he needed to help carry BDF to a long-sought championship.
Upcoming Week 2 schedule:
Sunday, February 5
4:00 p.m. – BDF FC vs Placencia Assassins FC – MCC Grounds
4:00 p.m. – Police United FC vs Belmopan Bandits SC – Norman Broaster Stadium
4:00 p.m. – Wagiya FC vs FC Belize – Carl Ramos Stadium
4:00 p.m. – Freedom Fighters FC vs Verdes FC – Victor Galvez Union Field