BELIZE CITY, Wed. Sept. 25, 2019– After playing to a scoreless draw in their Wednesday night Week 6 back match at the FFB Stadium last week (Verdes’ home game), both standings leaders Bandits Sport and Verdes FC proceeded to participate in draw games with different opponents this past weekend in Week 8 games of the Premier League of Belize (PLB) 2019-2020 Opening Season. Because of Independence Day on Saturday, 3 Week-8 games were played on Friday night, September 20, and the other on Sunday afternoon, September 22.
At the M.A. Stadium in Independence on Friday night, home standing Altitude FC cruised to a 3-1 win over Mid-South counterpart Placencia Assassins FC. Altitude led 2-nil at the half, courtesy of a goal each from Colombian teammates, Ronald Vergara (17’) and Miguel Garcia (32’). Ashton Torres (71’) cut the lead in half for Placencia Assasins, but Altitude rookie Jefton Apolonio (90+3’) sealed the 3-1 victory with his first goal in the big leagues.
Meanwhile, FF Valley Pride FC almost gained their first victory of the season, but had to settle for their first point from a 1-1 draw with their Dangriga counterpart, Wagiya SC at the Carl Ramos Stadium. After a scoreless first half, Carlos Lino’s (83’) late goal seemed to secure the victory for Valley Pride, but a penalty conversion in injury time by veteran Elroy “Bibbs” Kuylen (90+’ PK) salvaged the 1-1 draw for home standing Wagiya FC.
Also on Friday night, in a hotly contested match that saw a number of close calls, including rebounds from goalposts and cross bars at both ends, visiting defending champions San Pedro Pirates FC held league leading Bandits Sport to its second consecutive 0-0 draw at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium.
Almost upset at the MCC, BDF 3-3 Verdes
When the star studded Verdes FC descended on the MCC Grounds on Sunday afternoon, it looked like a good opportunity for them to eclipse the Bandits for the lead in the PLB standings with a victory over home standing BDF FC, the Bandits having picked up only 1 point in their draw on Friday night. But suddenly it looked like an upset was in the making, as in less than a minute after kickoff (36 seconds, to be exact, according to Match Commissioner Steve Myles) BDF striker Jaren Lambey received a pass from teammate Camilo Sanchez and exploded a left-foot blast from well inside the eighteen into the top left corner past a bewildered Woodrow West in goal for Verdes; and 15 minutes later, BDF attacking midfielder Jesse August’s hard right-foot grounder near the left goal post saw a diving West covering the ball well, only to see it suddenly bounce up off the uneven ground, careen off his shoulder, onto the underside of the cross bar and into the net; 2-nil, BDF at the 16th minute.
Soft spoken new BDF head coach Jerome “JeJe” Serano, who replaced the much more vociferous Charlie Slusher on the sideline, had his team playing inspired and energetic football; but his left defender, #4 Enfield Nunez was perhaps over-inflated, garnering a yellow card in the 2nd minute of play, and then compounding the felony with a quite unnecessary aggressive display 9 minutes later, prompting San Pedro based referee Ever Corado to issue a second yellow, followed by the resulting red-card expulsion. Nevertheless, the short-staffed BDF went on to take the 2-nil lead against a Verdes squad that featured twin spark-plugs, Denmark Casey and Jordy Polanco in midfield, and heavy fire-power in young Krisean Lopez and league-leading goleador, Mexican Mariano Landero up front.
Coach Serano then moved to secure the lead with a defensive change, replacing attacking midfielder Osmar Duran with strong defensive midfielder Mark Arzu; to which Verdes’ Peruvian coach Cesar Martin Patri responded by sacrificing midfielder Ricardo “Cheety” Jimenez with the offensive minded Jerome “Jarro” James. It was Jarro who had almost won a penalty to clip the Bandits on Wednesday night, if not for a silent referee whistle; and it was Jarro again on Sunday afternoon in the right spot at the right time. On a cross-goal ground center that slipped through the BDF defense, Jarro miss-kicked badly in front of goal; but so did right BDF defender 10 feet to his left, Kyle Budna, whose hand clearly hit the bouncing ball. Tweeeet! went the whistle by referee Ever Corado; and Verdes’ striker Mariano Landero made no mistake from the penalty spot at the 45th minute, directing a hard right footer into the top right corner past a gallant Glenford Chimilio in goal for BDF, cutting the lead in half, 2-1 at the intermission.
BDF was defending well, despite a man down; but early in second half, it was Jarro causing problems again, getting pushed in the back inside the eighteen, and drawing another penalty call from referee Corado. And again it was Landero, this time going low to the left corner while Chimilio went right; 2-2 ball game at the 51st minute.
Well, Belize City fans were certainly not about to question the impartiality of referee Corado, because on the very next play inside the Verdes eighteen, where offensive minded BDF left midfielder Jesse August was tripped on a play, it was a penalty in favor of BDF. And this time it was BDF’s Camilo Sanchez sending Verdes goalkeeper Woodrow West right, while the ball went low in the left corner; BDF back in front, 3-2, at the 54th minute. And, yes, it was an exciting and entertaining ball game.
It looked like BDF would beat all the odds, doing everything right on defense with time winding down. But youthful enthusiasm may have gotten the better of 17-year-old Jesse August, who was going all out on attack, and pulled up with cramps after some heavy tackling by Verdes defenders. Returning to action after a couple minutes on the sidelines, August was soon emboldened and driving the line hard, when again he pulled up with cramps at the 84th minute, and had to take the sidelines as BDF had used up their 3 changes. And with BDF short another man on the field, causing a brief lapse in their air-tight marking, Landero now saw a little daylight, and he didn’t wait to control a high bouncing pass at the top of the eighteen, but pounced on it immediately with a downward right-foot kick that drove the ball toward the ground in the left corner, beating a diving Glen Chimilio. Goaalll! 3-3 ball game at the 86th minute.
What a game! Despite the 5 minutes of injury time allowed, the score stayed that way. Charles Arzu of BDF has to be the toughest defensive marker in the league right now, by our estimation.
BDF FC – goalkeeper #16 Glenford Chimilio; #4 Enfield Nunez; #2 Charles Arzu; #13 Kyle Flowers; #21 Kyle Budna (#23 Justin Trapp at half-time); #25 Jesse August; #10 Osmar Duran (#8 Mark Arzu at 20’); #20 Ean Lewis; #11 Raymond Ramos; #17 Jaren Lambey (#14 Andir Chi at 67’); #9 Camilo Sanchez. Coach – Jerome Serano.
Verdes FC – goalkeeper #27 Woodrow West; #11 Jahron Myvett (#15 Norman Anderson at 56’); #14 Darrel Myvett (#10 Jarret Davis at 71’); #99 Everal Trapp; #20 Sebastian Vergara Vasquez; #12 Denmark Casey; #16 Jordy Polanco; #33 Edwin Bernal; #8 Ricardo Jimenez (#35 Jerome James at 34’); #9 Mariano Landero Martinez; #25 Krisean Lopez. Coach – Cesar Martin Patri.
Goals: BDF – Jaren Lambey 1’; Jesse August 16’; Camilo Sanchez 54’. Verdes – Mariano Landero 45’, 51’ & 86’.
Referee – Ever Corado. Assistants – Luis Umana & William Umana. 4th Official – Jason Morrison. Match Commissioner – Steve Myles.
Upcoming PLB Week 9 schedule:
Saturday, September 28
7:30 p.m. – San Pedro Pirates FC vs Altitude FC – Ambergris Stadium
Sunday, September 29
3:30 p.m. – Placencia Assassins FC vs Bandits Sport – Placencia Football Field
4:00 p.m. – FF Valley Pride FC vs BDF FC – Carl Ramos Stadium
4:00 p.m. – Verdes FC vs Wagiya Sporting Club – Norman Broaster Stadium
PLB Week 10 outlook:
Saturday, October 5
7:30 p.m. – Altitude FC vs Bandits Sport – M.A. Stadium
Sunday, October 6
3:30 p.m. – Placencia Assassins FC vs San Pedro Pirates FC – Placencia Football Field
4:00 p.m. – BDF FC vs Wagiya Sporting Club – MCC Grounds
4:00 p.m. – FF Valley Pride FC vs Verdes FC – Carl Ramos Stadium
Concacaf Nation’s League schedule:
Thursday, October 10
8:00 p.m. – Belize vs St. Kitts & Nevis – Isidoro Beaton Stadium
Sunday, October 13
4:00 p.m. – St. Kitts & Nevis vs Belize – Warner Park, St. Kitts & Nevis