BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Aug. 30, 2012
Usually, the semi-pro football tournament in Belize starts with a few favorite teams that are considered guaranteed to make the playoffs, which have generally comprised a fairly large package. With 12 teams, 6 in each zone, North and South, the norm has been for the top 4 from each zone to make the top-8 quarterfinal playoffs.
Not so in this Premier League of Belize (PLB) 2012-2013 Opening Tournament. Due to time constraints (the FFB has mandated that a Premier League champion must be declared before year’s end), it has been decided that only 2 teams from each zone will qualify for the top-4 semifinal playoffs in this PLB tournament. And, judging from Week 1 results this past weekend, it will be “total war” each week in the battle to earn one of the coveted playoff berths.
The competition format is a double round-robin within each zone, North and South, along with four out-of-zone meetings for each club, to help make the run to the playoffs be as fair as possible. With each team thus playing 14 regular season games, followed by home-and-away semifinals, the home-and-away championship finals are scheduled to climax on December 23.
Both zones appear highly competitive, and there is an extra incentive. Unlike the past three years, during which the former FFB leadership failed to enlist our national club champion in the CONCACAF Champions League tournament, next year promises to be different. FIFA is engaging with the new FFB leadership to upgrade the FFB stadium, and PLB clubs fully expect their champion to see international action in the next CONCACAF Champions League.
So, the race is already hot. Week 1 saw F.C. Belize (Leon Cadle 87’) 1:0 over Belmopan Bandits; Verdes FC (Julio Ayala 71’, Emmanuel Martinez 90’+2) 2:0 over San Ignacio United; San Pedro Seadogs (Francisco Noralez 7’, Everette Genus 63’, Jesse Smith 75’) 3:1 over FC San Felipe Barcelona (Eliazar Itza 54’); Paradise/Freedom Fighters (Dion Burgess Moguel 90’+1) 1:0 over R.G. City Boys United; Placencia Assassins (Luis Torres 72’) 1:0 over Police United; and Belize Defence Force (Vallan Symms 63’, Shane Flores 77’) 2:0 over Juventus.
Week 2 schedule:
Saturday, September 1
7:30 p.m. – (B) Verdes FC vs Police United – Marshalleck Stadium
7:30 p.m. – (B) Paradise/Freedom Fighters vs Placencia Assassins FC – Michael Ashcroft Stadium
Sunday, September 2
3:00 p.m. – (A) San Pedro Seadogs vs F.C. Belize – MCC Grounds
4:00 p.m. – (A) Juventus vs Belmopan Bandits – People’s Stadium
4:00 p.m. – (A) Belize Defence Force vs FC San Felipe Barcelona – Norman Broaster Stadium
Thursday, September 6
7:30 p.m. – (B) R.G. City Boys United vs San Ignacio United – MCC Grounds
(Ed. Note: Our apology for an error in our story, “Three 1-0 games in Week 1” in Wednesday’s issue: There were 11 goals scored, not 12, in last weekend’s Week 1 games, where only 1 goal, a 7th minute strike by San Pedro’s Francisco Noralez, came in 1st half.)