BELIZE CITY, Mon. May 31, 2021– Football Federation of Belize (FFB) executive member in charge of national teams, Marlon Kuylen informed our sports desk this morning that the Belize National “A” Team, the Jaguars, travelled by a chartered “top of the line” Guatemalan bus from the Melchor border yesterday morning, Sunday, and had arrived inside the Nicaragua border with El Salvador this morning. The Jaguars are scheduled to play their last World Cup Qualifier (WCQ) match for the FIFA 2022 Qatar World Cup on Friday, June 4, in Managua, Nicaragua.
“We left no stone unturned,” assured Kuylen, but getting a direct flight to Nicaragua proved impossible; and, unlike the recent Beach Soccer contingent which travelled to Cancun by bus then flew to Costa Rica for their tournament, no flights were available to Nicaragua; so the team contingent would have had to overnight in Costa Rica and still then take another bus ride to Nicaragua.
“It would have involved much greater possible exposure to Covid-19 with repeated stops and hotel overnight if we had gone by bus to Cancun first, and then flew to Costa Rica, overnight in Costa Rica and then take a bus again to Nicaragua,” explained Kuylen. “In addition,” he continued, “the cost would have been far greater, and the trip much more burdensome and inconvenient for the players.”
All in all, said Kuylen, they got the best available travel arrangement for the team, considering that Concacaf requires that the team arrive at the playing venue two full days before game time for Covid-19 testing and other pre-game arrangements.
“The bus ride was very comfortable, AC and bathroom facilities available,” continued Kuylen, “and the players are also happy that we shared the travelling cost savings with a bonus payment in addition to their normal per diem when the team travels.”
The only down side to this World Cup Qualifier trip to Nicaragua, which could be considered both ways, said Kuylen, is that some unfortunate problems in the last few days with a few players, where Covid-19 risks and other issues are concerned, has resulted in a few players’ names being removed from the travelling list this time.
“Some players were voicing their speculation that we were just trying to cut costs in going by bus,” Kuylen explained, “but one player’s family tried to sponsor his personal flight to Nicaragua and join the team there, only to find out, as we had advised, that there simply were no direct flights available to Nicaragua at this time.”
Also, international players, Michael Salazar and Antonio Rocha, could not be released in time by their American clubs in order to join the Belize team in Nicaragua before the two-day advance deadline before game time; so they won’t be with the Jaguars for this game. Carlos Bernardez from Honduras will also not be with the team; and neither will Angelo Cappello from the U.K.
From the regular home-based national team players list, goalkeeper Woodrow West, defender Evral Trapp, and midfielder/striker Jesse August will also not be accompanying the Jaguars to Nicaragua.
The net effect is that this will be a relatively young Belize Jaguars, “the team of the future,” opined Kuylen, and they are reportedly in high spirits to make their mark for Belize.
At this sports desk, we don’t have very high hopes, considering that no football competition is being played in Belize right now, and our players can’t be in their best competitive form; but we have the heart, and the Jaguars always give their all for the Jewel. And it’s still football, eleven against eleven. So, le’s go, Belize! Le’s go, the Jaguars!!
P.S. FFB promised a press release this afternoon with the final Jaguars contingent to Nicaragua.