BELIZE CITY, Mon. Nov. 6, 2017–Well, this one is indeed going “down to the wire,” folks. After Week 13 results this past weekend in the Premier League of Belize (PLB) 2017-2018 Opening Season, the playoff field has been narrowed down to 5 teams for only 4 spots. Two teams, defending champions Belmopan Bandits SC and Verdes FC, have already secured their playoff berths; and the other 2 spots are now up for grabs among 3 teams – San Pedro Pirates FC, Police United FC and Belize Defence Force FC. (See standings below.)
On Saturday night on their home turf at the M.A. Stadium in Independence, Placencia Assassins FC saw their slim playoff hopes completely dashed, as they fell, 5-1, to visiting Verdes FC. After Luis “Baaka” Torres (31’) gave Assassins the early lead, Verdes equalized before halftime through Gilroy “Bredda” Thurton (39’), and then continued with second half goals from Desmond Wade (54’), Brazilian Alcides “Paco” Thomas (66’ & 81’) and Ricardo “Cheety” Jimenez (68’). Also on Saturday, it was target practice for home standing Belmopan Bandits SC at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium, where they handed a 7-nil trashing to Freedom Fighters FC from Punta Gorda. Bandits’ Honduran striker Georgie Welcome exploded for 5 goals (9’, 59’, 62’, 87’ & 90’ PK) to take over the goal scoring lead with 11 goals. (See standings below. Welcome’s 5-goal total in last week’s report had been increased to 6 by League officials, who credited him with the goal against Verdes, previously assigned to Bandits captain Elroy Smith, after a review of the tape.). The other goals were by his Honduran teammate Darwin Bermudez (48’) and Carlos Gonzalez (20’).
On Sunday, the first big shocker was at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium, where the surging San Pedro Pirates FC (their fourth straight victory) upset the odds favorite Police United FC, 2-1, in an exciting contest that saw San Pedro’s highly skilled Mexican striker Hector Martinez capitalizing on two Police defensive errors. San Pedro took the first half lead, when Martinez pounced on a miscommunication between Police stopper Trevor “Burger” Lennen and goalkeeper Keith Allen; and Martinez’ finish from a hard angle on the left side was clinical, lobbing the ball just above the head of a covering Lennen and under the cross bar for the 1-nil lead at the 8th minute. San Pedro held the lead until Police striker Harrison “Cafu” Roches took advantage of a San Pedro defensive lapse on a free kick just outside the eighteen at the 51st minute, and drove a rocket into the top right corner, catching defenders off guard, as they were about setting a defensive wall. San Pedro got what proved to be the game winner at the 71st minute, as midfielder Jesse Smith’s left foot drive from just outside the eighteen was pushed out to the right by a diving Allen, but an alert Hector Martinez beat defenders to the ball and drove it past the bewildered Police goalie. Twice in the waning moments, Police hit the San Pedro hardware, a header off the cross bar by Devon Makin, and a right foot blast from twenty-five yards out by Andres “J.R.” Makin that bounced off the right goalpost. With the 2-1 win, San Pedro find trhemselves in 3rd place in the standings, but their remaining game is a tough one, against Verdes FC.
The other Sunday game was a big surprise for visiting BDF FC, who failed to clinch their playoff spot, as they could only pull out a 1-1 draw against a young Wagiya squad playing in front of their home fans at the Carl Ramos Stadium. With nothing to play for but pride, Wagiya got on the scorecard first through Latrell Middleton at the 81st minute; but the indomitable Shane “Chucky” Flores did what he does best for his BDF squad, came up with an important goal in injury time (91’), to secure the 1-1 draw. With the playoff race as close as it is, that one point may well prove the difference in securing a berth in post-season action for BDF, who can make 21 points with a victory this weekend against a demoralized Freedom Fighters FC.
The regular season ends this weekend with Week 14, after which the top 4 teams in the standings go on to the semifinal home-and-away playoffs. Standings rank is determined first by points total, then goal difference, then total goals scored.
Week 14 schedule:
Saturday, November 11
7:30 p.m. – Bandits Sports SC vs Wagiya FC – Isidoro Beaton Stadium
Sunday, November 12
*4:00 p.m. – San Pedro Pirates FC vs Verdes FC – Ambergris Stadium
*4:00 p.m. – Placencia Assassins FC vs Police United FC – M.A. Stadium
*4:00 p.m. – BDF FC vs Freedom Fighters FC – MCC Grounds
(*NOTE: Sunday schedule is tentative, as the League intends for all 3 games to be played at the same time. The
Sunday schedule is expected to be confirmed by Tuesday of this week.)