First, here are the weekend Week 13 results:
On Saturday night at the Marshalleck Stadium in Benque Viejo, Placencia Assassins bombed Verdes FC, 4-0, with goals from Ashley Torres (35’), Rolling Burgess (55’), Luis Torres (68’) and Bernard Linares (73’). Meanwhile, Police United struggled before securing a 4-1 win over R.G. City Boys United at the MCC Grounds in Belize City. Evan Mariano (8’) and Danny Jimenez (34’, 87’ & 90’) shook the net for Police, while Deon McCaulay (29’) got the goal for City Boys.
In games played on Sunday: BDF travelled to the Ambergris Stadium and came away with the 2-1 victory over the San Pedro Seadogs. BDF goals were by Tyrone Pandy (44’) and Justo Lewis (60’), while San Pedro’s sole tally was by Angel Cantun (66’). Belmopan Bandits journeyed all the way to the San Felipe Football Field in Orange Walk, where they managed a 1-nil win over home squad FC San Felipe Barcelona, courtesy of a goal from David Madrid (45’). Here at the MCC Grounds in Belize City, after an hour’s delay due to transportation difficulties, a short-staffed Juventus FC played an exciting game before falling 2-0 to home-standing F.C. Belize, who got goals from captain Christobal Gilharry (40’) and Michael Hernandez (75’). And out west at the Norman Broaster Stadium, it was visiting Paradise/Freedom Fighters, 1-nil, over winless San Ignacio United, on a goal from Leonard Valdez (35’).
Down to the wire
We said early on that this was shaping up to be the most keenly contested semipro football season in quite a while, and indeed it is. With one weekend of regular season games remaining in the Premier League of Belize (PLB) Opening Season Tournament 2012-2013, only one team – North Zone leaders Belmopan Bandits is guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. The other 5 teams – Belize Defense Force and F.C. Belize from the North; and Police United, Placencia Assassins and Verdes FC from the South are all still in the hunt for the 3 remaining playoff spots. (See standings below.)
In the North Zone, BDF can afford a draw this coming Saturday night, and still be sure of the second playoff berth, by virtue of their goal difference advantage over F.C. Belize. An F.C. Belize victory would give them the same 28 points with BDF. But should BDF lose to the Bandits on Saturday and remain at 27 points, F.C. Belize could clinch the spot with a victory over FC San Felipe Barcelona on Sunday in San Felipe. F.C. Belize must therefore pray that the Bandits can stop BDF on Saturday night.
In the South, it is even more intriguing. None of the 3 contending teams – Police United, Placencia Assassins and Verdes FC – can take anything for granted, as they battle for the 2 spots in the semifinal playoffs. Each of the 3 playoff contenders will meet different, supposedly weaker teams this weekend; but there are no guarantees in this PLB season. Only 2 of the 3 will make the playoffs.
Police can relax at their own peril against San Ignacio United on Sunday; because a draw by Police, giving them 28 points, could push them out of the playoffs, should both Placencia Assassins and Verdes FC win their games and reach 29 points apiece. Though winless and in last place in the South Zone, San Ignacio United has only given up 16 goals in 13 games, and only 1 goal in their last 4 outings combined. Their problem has been in scoring goals, with only 5 in the season so far. Could San Ignacio gain their first win at the cost of Police’s spot in the playoffs; or pull off a draw and hurt Police’s chances?
And neither can defending champions Placencia Assassins take R.G. City Boys lightly. Minus their stopper Mark Grant (sitting out a red card) on Saturday night, City Boys gave Police a mighty hard time securing the victory against 10 men, after City Boys’ Paulie “Mr. Fabulous” Bradley was ejected by referee Victory Williams in the first half. City Boys were down to 9 players, when sweeper Shawn “Chuckie” Thurton took to the sidelines with an injured leg late in the game, before Police got 2 quick goals from Danny Jimenez to ensure the 4-1 victory. The Assassins have only lost twice so far in the tournament, one to Police and the other to R.G. City Boys United. Placencia will want revenge, besides needing the victory to clinch a playoff spot; City Boys have their pride and their loyal home fans to inspire one more great performance. It will be a game.
Finally, Verdes FC would be well advised to bring their A-game against Paradise/Freedom Fighters, for nothing else will do against the lads from the deep south, who are looking to avenge a 3-2 road loss to Verdes when they meet this Sunday at the Michael Ashcroft. Verdes are coming off a devastating 4-0 trashing from Placencia Assassins, while Paradise/Freedom Fighters are fresh off a 1-nil win against San Ignacio United. If Verdes wants it, they will have to take it; nothing is for free in the final day of regular season.
Final “Do or Die” regular season, Week 14, schedule:
Saturday, December 1
7:30 p.m. – Belmopan Bandits vs Belize Defense Force – Isidoro Beaton Stadium
7:30 p.m. – Paradise/Freedom Fighters vs Verdes FC – Michael Ashcroft Stadium
Sunday, December 2
2:30 p.m. – San Pedro Seadogs vs Juventus FC – Ambergris Stadium
3:30 p.m. – FC San Felipe Barcelona vs F.C. Belize – San Felipe Football Field
4:00 p.m. – Police United FC vs San Ignacio United – Isidoro Beaton Stadium
4:00 p.m. – R.G. City Boys United vs Placencia Assassins – MCC Grounds