BELIZE CITY, Mon. Apr. 23, 2018– Both top seeds in the Premier League of Belize (PLB) 2017-2018 Closing Season were rattled over the weekend in the 1st leg of the home-and-away semifinals. #1 seed Belmopan Bandits SC barely pulled out a 2-2 draw in injury time against #4 seed Police United FC; and #2 seed defending champion Verdes FC was shocked, 2-nil, by #3 seed BDF FC.
At the Isidoro Beaton Stadium on Saturday night, the Bandits took a 26th minute 1-nil lead on a header by Jerome “Jarro” James, but Police United’s Marlon “El Matador” Meza equalized early (49’) in second half; then midfielder Harrison “Cafu” Roches burned a hard grounder beside the left goalpost from the edge of the eighteen to give Police the 2-1 lead at the 79th minute. And it surely looked like Police United had accomplished the upset; but in the second minute of injury time, Bandits’ tall left defender Tyrone Pandy took advantage of a corner kick by captain, Elroy Smith to score another header (92’) for the Bandits, who thus secured the 2-2 draw in the “away” game. Next Saturday night, at the same venue, it will be the Bandits’ home game, and the away-goal rule is in effect if there is another draw in regulation. A 0-0 or 1-1 score would result in a Bandits victory; another 2-2 draw would lead to overtime; and a 3-3 draw or above would favor Police. Of course, a victory in game two by either team automatically sends them to the Finals.
Here at the MCC Grounds on Sunday, the results were even more surprising, and pleasing to a handsome turnout of BDF/City fans, as the visiting Verdes was unable to score, despite making more attempts at goal, the most spectacular being a 36th minute left-footed direct kick to the right “V” from just outside the eighteen by stopper Elroy “Bibbs” Kuylen, that forced BDF goalkeeper Glenford Chimilio to make the “save of the game,” diving high to his left and barely deflecting the ball, thus preventing a Verdes go-ahead “away” goal. Eventually, the difference of the ball game turned out to be the relentless speed of BDF striker Trimayne Harris, who twice out-ran Verdes sweeper Victor Mejia on break-away plays, at the 43rd and 83rd minutes, beating Verdes goalkeeper Zeron Sagastume from close range on both occasions, to give BDF the 2-nil home victory. With the away-goal rule in effect, the Green Machine must at least return the favor, 2-nil, on Sunday at the Norman Broaster to force overtime, or win by a 3-goal margin to claim the series victory. If BDF manages to score on Sunday, then even a 2-goal margin of victory would not be enough for Verdes, as the away-goal rule would favor BDF; e.g. in a 3-1 Verdes home win, the resulting 3-3 aggregate draw would become a 4-3 BDF victory with 2 points for the away goal.)
It’s what the playoffs are all about! A ticket to the “Big Dance” Finals is on the line for all 4 teams in the 2nd leg of the PLB semifinals this weekend:
Saturday, April 28
8:00 p.m. – Belmopan Bandits SC vs Police United FC – Isidoro Beaton Stadium
Sunday, April 29
4:00 p.m. – Verdes FC vs BDF FC – Norman Broaster Stadium