BELIZE CITY, Wed. Sept. 12, 2018– In the Concacaf Nations League qualifier at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium on Friday night, September 7, Belize lived up to our higher Concacaf ranking (#24 to Bahamas #31), as the Jaguars posted a 4-0 win, despite missing a penalty and a few good scoring opportunities. Belize finally got on the score card late in first half, with two goals coming in quick succession, after left midfield/wing Nahjib Guerra navigated near the goal line twice, on the first occasion setting the inlet for Deon McCaulay (40’), who converted from point blank range, and then seeing his pass again to Deon being deflected off a defender and into the net for the second Belize goal (a Bahamas auto goal) at the 44th minute.
The bright light for the Jaguars would be the two second half goals from young Krisean Lopez (80’ & 90+5’), who came off the bench and displayed poise and clinical finishing on the big stage.
Only the top 10 ranked teams from the 34 participating in this Nations League qualifying round will make it to the Concacaf Gold Cup 2019, joining the 6 teams already assured a spot from their last Gold Cup appearance. Points and goal difference will be considered after the 4 games for our national team are completed next March, and missed goal opportunities may come back to haunt us. Already, after this first game, Belize is at 8th place in the standings with 3 points and a +4 goal difference. Fourteen teams each have 3 points from a victory, with Haiti leading the standings with a +13 goal difference, followed by Cuba with +11, Curacao with +10, Canada with +8, Dominican Republic with +5, French Guiana with +5, Jamaica with +4 and Belize with +4.
Despite the not so impressive showing against a decidedly weaker opponent, the future still looks hopeful for the Belize Jaguars, who displayed a healthy balance of wily veterans along with some fresh young talent in the likes of Krisean Lopez, Nahjib Guerra and Norman Anderson.
Belize Jaguars travels to Montserrat for our next Nations League qualifier on October 14 (previously October 30) against Montserrat, who were last ranked #36 in Concacaf, but lost only by a 2-1 score to #9 ranked El Salvador in their first Nations League encounter.