The Premier League 2012-2013 Opening Season, which featured 12 teams, was one of the most competitive ever, with goal differences deciding the final 4-team playoff spots. Well, Week 1 of the PLB 2012-2013 Closing Season is in the books, and with only 8 teams competing in this one, it appears that fans can brace themselves for an even more competitive and thrilling tournament. Some top players from the 4 inactive clubs (R.G. City Boys United, Juventus, San Pedro Sea Dogs and Paradise/Freedom Fighters) are expected to find spots on the rosters of the 8 competing teams, which will likely raise the level of play another notch.
In the only Saturday night game, on February 9 at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium, defending champion Belmopan Bandits, despite missing their MVP goalie Woodrow West 9 (reportedly away for tryouts in the U.S.), cruised past visiting Verdes FC, 4-nil, with goals from Jerome “Jarro” James (1’ & 69’), David Madrid (19’) and Brandon Peyrefitte (33’).
The remaining 3 games were on Sunday afternoon, February 10. Out west at the Norman Broaster Stadium in San Ignacio, it was Belize Defence Force FC coming away with a 3-2 win over San Ignacio United FC. Paul Nunez (9’ & 32’) and Harrison Tasher (80’) shook the net for BDF; while San Ignacio United got goals from Leonard Valdez (41’) and Felix Miranda (90+’). Meanwhile, down south at the Placencia Football Field, visiting Police United FC dropped the home squad, Placencia Assassins FC, 3-1, with goals from Jeremy Bermudez (21’), Evan Mariano (66’) and Lennox “Criminal” Castillo (90+’). Placencia’s lone tally was by Earnie Whyte (33’).
Here in Belize City at the MCC Grounds, the visitors were again victorious, as FC San Felipe Barcelona grabbed an impressive 2-nil win over F.C. Belize. City fans were looking for the “touches” from the young F.C. Belize team, but instead it was San Felipe, under newly returned coach Pasqual Noralez, who kept the home team off balance and unable to mount any meaningful attack. Clifton West played the lone “big striker” role for San Felipe, while midfield general Deris “Colombia” Benavides had ample support from a loaded midfield. West drove on the left wing, then broke back right, away from F.C. defender Jorje Estrada enough to clear a path toward goal, and unleashed a right foot blast from 30 yards out at the 46th minute, to take a 1-nil lead into the intermission. F.C. Belize goalie Glenford Chimilio made an acrobatic diving save, snatching the ball as it curved away towards the left corner, but when he landed, the ball bounced free and into the net. A faulty wall at the top of the eighteen, after West had his shirt pulled as he drove toward goal, allowed the marksman Deris “Colombia” Benavides to spear his low shot though the opening at the edge of the wall and into the net for the second San Felipe goal at the 77th minute.
It was sweet revenge for the 8-0 San Felipe loss at home to F.C. Belize at the end of the previous competition. F.C. Belize enlisted the services of veteran Hilberto Muschamp, who entered in second half, but he wasn’t effective in the offense, which is not his traditional position. Strong rumors persist that an agreement has been reached between Norman “Tilliman” Nunez and the F.C. Belize management to have him appear in their next outing. Coach Marvin Ottley says he has only been one week in camp with the F.C. squad, and promises a quick return to the form they displayed during last season.
Saturday, February 16
7:30 p.m. – Verdes FC vs San Ignacio United FC – Marshalleck Stadium
7:30 p.m. – Police United FC vs F.C. Belize – MCC Grounds
7:30 p.m. – *Belmopan Bandits FC vs FC San Felipe Barcelona – Isidoro Beaton Stadium
Sunday, February 17
3:30 p.m. – Belize Defence Force vs Placencia Assassins FC – Norman Broaster Stadium
(*NOTE: Please note the change in schedule for the FC San Felipe Barcelona vs Belmopan Bandits FC game, which was previous set to be played in San Felipe.)