BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Oct. 22, 2015–Making it to the quarterfinals was already out of the question for Belize’s Verdes FC going into tonight’s final game in the CONCACAF Champions League group stage against San Francisco FC at the Estadio Maracana de Panama. But, after a 2-1 victory at home on September 22, Verdes was looking to end our first venture into this prestigious regional tournament on a good note; if not a victory, at least a respectable loss. It was neither.
Unfortunately for Verdes and their praying fans back home in the Jewel, a disturbing pattern continued where, after a good showing at home, our team received a big score on foreign soil. After drawing 0-0 with Queretaro FC of Mexico at the FFB Stadium on August 18, Verdes promptly fell to Queretaro by an 8-0 margin on September 17 in Queretaro, Mexico. That was at high altitude; approximately 6,000 feet above sea level. Verdes promptly returned home, regrouped, and dealt the visiting San Francisco FC of Panama a 2-1 surprise a few days later on September 22 at our FFB Stadium. Panama would not be at high altitude like Mexico, so there were high hopes for Verdes going into tonight’s return match a month later; but those hopes were dashed early, as San Francisco came out blazing, taking a 1-0 lead at the 3rd minute, and adding 3 more by half-time, on their way to an 8-0 shelling, to match the score dealt Verdes by Queretaro.
We have not yet seen the play by play, but the consistency of the goal statistics we gleaned from concacaf.com indicate that San Francisco thoroughly dominated Verdes, with goals coming at the 3rd, 17th, 30th, 42nd, 59th, 67th, 77th, and 90th minutes, none from the penalty spot, for the 8-0 final score. Goal scorers for San Francisco were Jonathan Pinilla (3’), Johnny Ruiz Castillo (17’, 30’ & 77’), Ervin Zorrilla (42’ & 59’), Moises Gil (67’) and Eduardo Jimenez Blis (90’). The only yellow card of the match was issued to Belize’s Jarret Davis at the 90th minute.
The winners of the 8 groups will go on to the quarterfinals. The final standings in Group 3 showed Queretaro FC with 7 pts and +9 goal difference from 2 wins, a draw and a loss; San Francisco FC with 6 pts and +6 goal difference from 2 wins, 0 draw, and 2 losses; and Verdes FC with 4 pts and -15 goal difference from 1 win, 1 draw and 2 losses. (See “Quarterfinal matchups determined for Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League 2015-16” elsewhere in this issue.)
Tonight’s Verdes line-up included: #11 Benito Moreira, #15 Jahron Myvette, #26 Willian Nascimento, #30 Chris Gilharry, #16 Jesus Patino, #19 Darroll Lambey, #21 Delroy Andrews, #49 Jorge Aleman (#28 Oswin Williams at 66’), #9 Deon McCaulay, #10 Jarett Davis, #14 Alcides Thomas (#24 Gilroy Thurton at 58’). Coach – Walter Salazar.
Other players on the Verdes bench that did not see action were #34 Ryan Gill, #8 Ricardo Jimenez, #17 Jamil Cano, and #20 Marlon Molina. Brazilian import Yoras Silva was unavailable due to accumulated yellow card suspension.
Referee was Walter Quesada of Costa Rica.
Verdes FC will return home to now focus on the second round of competition in our Premier League of Belize 2015-2016 Opening Season, as they try to defend their title and secure another berth in next year’s edition of the CONCACAF Champions League. Despite the disappointing losses “on the road,” Verdes did make history for Belize with our first Champions League victory, and will certainly be fighting for a chance to redeem their Champions League “road” record in the future. Getting that chance will, of course, not be easy, as 5 other PLB teams also have their eyes on the prize.
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