The second leg of the home-and-away semifinal series in the Premier League of Belize 2012-2013 Closing Season takes place this weekend, and it will indeed be the closing of the curtain for two teams, while two others will go on next week to the championship finals series.
On Saturday night at the FFB Stadium, Police broke the deadlock in injury time to drop Belize Defense Force, 3-1. Amin “Tacos” August (4’) put Police ahead early, but BDF got the equalizer quickly from Tyrone Pandy (11’). Tacos (90+’) struck again, and also Trevor “Burger” Lennen (90+’) in injury time to give Police the 3-1 victory.
On Sunday afternoon at the MCC Grounds, there was also an early goal, Avian “Chiches” Crawford’s strike at the 2nd minute, to give FC Belize the 1-nil lead over defending champion Belmopan Bandits. The difference is that there were no more goals, and FC Belize came away 1-nil winners.
A month ago, with top striker Deon McCaulay on a tear, having scored 8 goals in 4 games, it seemed like defending champions Belmopan Bandits were a cinch to repeat as champions. But the last two weeks of April ended without a score for Deon, and then he exited early due to injury in game 1 of the semifinal series against FC Belize on Sunday, and all of a sudden things don’t look so cozy anymore for the reigning champions.
Of course, the Bandits were champions before the arrival of Deon; but they are further handicapped in the all-important midfield department by the loss due to red cards of David Trapp and Gilbert Swaso. And stalwart defender Ian “Yellow” Gaynair had to leave Sunday’s game at half-time due to injury also. Will Yellow and Deon be able to play this Saturday night?
On the other side, the exciting John King, who was also red-carded on Sunday, will be missed by F.C. Belize, but FC Belize is a team that has depended on its defense all season long, and they already have a goal to defend, being one-up on the aggregate score card. Their line-up is encouragingly healthy at the most important time in the tournament.
In the Opening Season regular season, it was FC Belize 1:0 Bmp Bandits, and FC Belize 0:0 Bmp Bandits. In this Closing Season regular season, it has been Bmp Bandits 0:0 FC Belize, and Bmp Bandits 1:0 FC Belize. And now in the semifinal playoffs, it stands at FC Belize 1:0 Bmp Bandits. Goals are scarce between these two, and that favors FC Belize right now, being up, 1-0.
And while the Bandits are licking their wounds and gathering themselves for Saturday’s showdown, the Police are riding high, comfortably in front of their Belize Defense Force opponents by a 3-1 margin in the other semifinal.
In their only regular season meeting last year in the Opening Season, BDF won 3-1 over Police. But when they met in the semifinal playoffs, Police took game 1 by a 2-1 margin, and they drew the next game, 0-0. In the Closing Season regular season this year, BDF won their first meeting, 2-0, and again defeated Police, 2-1, in their second regular season meeting. But once more, in the semifinal playoffs it has been Police on top, with a 3-1 win in game 1 over BDF. And BDF also lost their ace goalkeeper Frank Lopez due to a red card in Saturday night’s encounter. Will history repeat itself, and see Police into the Finals?
Semifinals game 2 schedule:
Saturday, May 11
7:30 p.m. – Belmopan Bandits FC vs FC Belize – Isidoro Beaton Stadium
Sunday, May 12
3:30 p.m. – Belize Defense Force FC vs Police United FC – Norman Broaster Stadium