BELMOPAN, Mon. Jan. 15, 2018– The final four matches of group play in the Belmopan Football Association (BFA) Amateur First Division Opening Tournament 2017-2018 featured four crucial and decisive matches in Week 14, which did not disappoint the viewing spectators.
In Friday night’s double header, four teams entered, vying for the only two remaining playoff spots in Group A. In game one of the night, Napoles FC entered the game holding on to the third qualifying spot in Group A with 11 points, whilst Camalote Westar Warriors entered at the number five spot with 9 points. A draw would see Napoles through, whilst Camalote had to win to make it to the next round. Captained by veteran midfielder Oliver Wiltshire, Camalote Westar Warriors were able to initially manhandle and subsequently edge out a young and talented Napoles FC by a final score of 4-3. The Warriors started slowly in this one, as it was Napoles who struck very early via Daniel Naj in the 5th minute. The Warriors responded six minutes later through Ricky Tamai in the 11th minute to tie things up at 1 apiece. Needing to win this one, Camalote pressed forward, imposing their superior experience and strength on the youthful Napoles team, and took the lead in the 22nd minute by way of a goal from Sanjay Casey, who had an exceptional game in midfield guiding the Warriors attack. Ricky Tamai doubled his tally of the night in the 56th minute, giving Camalote a 3-1 lead, and Paul Gomez got his third goal of the season in the 63rd minute to extend Camolote’s lead to a convincing 4-1. It seemed for a while that the onslaught would continue against the young Napoles FC, but, with a playoff berth on the line, the young men fought back. Taking advantage of the tired legs of the veteran Warriors, Napoles started attacking down the wings on the pitch, and their pace started to prove too much for the Warriors, as in the 67th minute, Eber Tobar caught up on a cross coming from the right side of the pitch to easily tap one home for Napoles FC, thereby bridging the gap to two goals. With time winding down and on the verge of elimination, Napoles pushed everyone forward and scored again in the 87th minute via the boot of Brian Castellanos, who blasted home Napoles third goal from within the eighteen-yard box. The final three minutes were intense, with Camalote Westar Warriors “parking the bus” in front of goal to deny Napoles’ relentless waves of attack, and more importantly denying the much needed fourth goal that would have seen Napoles go through to the next round. Camalote Westar Warriors held on to the 4-3 score, and with it earned their right to play in the quarterfinal round, where they will now face the energetic and forceful Coast Guard FC.
In game two of the night, Las Flores FC faced a Juventus FC that simply refused to die, despite being on life support due to goal difference. Las Flores entered with 11 points and holding on to the number four spot, whilst Juventus entered at the number seven spot with 8 points, but with a goal difference of minus twelve. A draw would see Las Flores through, whilst only a remote 22 goal-margin win would be sufficient to see Juventus through over both Las Flores and Napoles, who had lost earlier in the night. A win by Juventus by less than 22 goals or a draw would send Napoles by way of goal difference over both Juventus and Las Flores. With nothing to lose, Juventus took to the field determined to play the role of spoilers, and were well on their way to do so when, in the 23rd minute, Ever Ordonez received a cross from the left flank atop of the six-yard box, and calmly slapped the ball into the net past a diving Placido Bol in goal for Las Flores. Juventus continued threatening to extend the score, but were continuously denied by a vocal Bol and an organized Las Flores defense. The first half ended 1-0, and with Las Flores losing, meant Napoles had renewed hopes of making it to the playoffs if this result held. Needing only a draw to qualify, Las Flores made three early substitutions in the second half, bringing in Jose Rodriguez, Rudy Galdamez and Melvin Perez to bolster their attack. Juventus FC soon found themselves stuck in their own half defending and unable to maintain possession. The forward push by Las Flores paid off in the 71st minute, when Victor Caliz took advantage of a poor clearance by Juventus and rifled the equalizer home past the diving James Gonzalez in goal for Juventus FC. The game ended 1-1, and with it, Las Flores took their tally to 12 points to qualify in third place, and will now face Cavetubing.Bz Strikers from Group B in the quarterfinals.
On Sunday, number one seed, undefeated Valley United FC went up against number two seed, Club Atletico. The results of this one would not impact the one-two standings, but Club Atletico was out to prove that they could stop the unbeaten run of Valley United. Bolstered by a bus load of fans and travelling supporters, Valley United came into the match very confident, choosing to rest a number of their starters, and opting to start the game with substitute players up front and in the defense, risking their unbeaten run against a determined Club Atletico, still bitter from back-to-back sub-champion finishes in the 2016-2017 Opening and Closing seasons. The game started at a very high pace, with both teams attacking each other’s goal, whilst maintaining disciplined defense lines. Club Atletico drew first blood when in the 26th minute, speedy Tivi Ramos was able to outsprint the Valley defense and successfully slap one past Randy “The Big Mennonite” Dueck in goal for Valley United. With the 1-0 lead, Atletico confidence grew, and with it came the second goal, courtesy of Johnny Cardenas in the 39th minute. A shocked Valley United now found itself in an unusual position of losing, and now needed to prove their resilience in fighting from behind. Down but not out, Valley United rallied with renewed efforts forward, and in the 43rd minute, Marvin Calderon got one past star goalkeeper Orlando Galdamez, who poorly handled the bouncing ball, which ricocheted over his shoulders and into goal. First half ended 2-1; and to commence the second half, Valley injected its regular starters into the game, making three 46th minute substitutions. Despite clearly dominating the second half in possession and attempts at goal, Valley United was unsuccessful in getting the ball past goalkeeper Galdamez, who had a busy second half denying attempt after attempt, and aided by the uprights twice. Thanks to the strong performance by defending “Best Goalkeeper” of the tournament, Orlando Galdamez, Club Atletico was able to hold on to the 2-1 victory, thereby bringing Valley’s unbeaten streak to an end. Valley United nonetheless finishes first in the group, and will now face Wingz FC, fourth place finishers of Group B. Club Atletico, on the other hand, will have a much bigger task in the quarterfinals when they take on Group B number three seed, the dangerous Roaring Creek United.
The final match of the weekend saw Cavetubing.Bz Strikers going up against Roaring Creek United in a battle that would see the winner wrestle the first seed away from Coast Guard FC in Group B, with both teams entering this one with 16 points apiece, whilst Coast Guard had 18 points, having played all its games. In this battle for supremacy, both teams were very cautious in their attacks, with not much action to report on in the first half, which ended 0-0. The second half, however, saw both teams taking many more risks forward, and in the 66th minute, Cavetubing.Bz Strikers were rewarded with a penalty, when their leading goal scorer, Gabriel Perez was taken down inside the penalty box by Roaring Creek’s Noah Moro. Referee Josue Rivera, Sr. whistled, and Juan Rodney stepped up and calmly outplaced Brandon Anderson in goal for Roaring Creek, who went left, but Rodney placed the ball to his right. Ecstatic from the 1-0 lead, and still relishing in the celebration, Cavetubing.Bz Strikers got careless, and from the ensuing kickoff, Roaring Creek mounted an attack on the right, which saw Orin Reneau smashing the ball home less than one minute later, to tie the game up in the 68th minute. This made the game interesting, with both teams now going head-on for the win. Roaring Creek was clearly the dominant team today, but they just could not find the back of the net for a second time, squandering several clear goal-scoring chances. The long whistle came, and the game ended in a 1-1 stalemate. The standings in Group B would remain unchanged, with Coast Guard finishing on top of the group with 18 points, and Cavetubing edging out Roaring Creek by one goal difference for the number two seed with both boasting 17 points apiece.
The two-leg quarterfinal series commence this coming weekend at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium with the following schedule:
Friday, January 19
6:45 p.m. – Valley United FC vs Wingz FC
8:45 p.m. – Coast Guard FC vs Camalote Westar Warriors
Sunday, January 21
11:00 a.m. – Las Flores FC vs Cavetubing.Bz Strikers
1:00 p.m. – Roaring Creek United vs Club Atletico