BELIZE CITY, Wed. July 14, 2004
The BPFL playoffs are scheduled to continue this weekend with two critical games for three clubs. Big Bad Sagitun and Builders Hardware Bandits are still alive to make it to the championships, but it?s more of life support for the Bandits, who have to win in regulation time to have a chance. For Griga United, Sunday?s home game against Gatorade Juventus has absolutely nothing of importance to them except if they want to play spoiler, or perhaps save face by winning.
Gatorade Juventus are just about in with nine points, and can end up with fifteen points if they should win their remaining two road games, the first of which comes up this Sunday in Dangriga. The other is at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium in Belmopan, scheduled for Saturday, July 24th, 2004. Juventus have been drinking Gatorade of late and look good when they spread the offense.
The rejuvenation of Daniel Thomas, who was just about getting used to taking splinters out of his shorts riding the pine with Benny?s Kulcha Yabra for a couple of seasons, caused problems for Sagitun and could do the same for any other opponents who overlook or underestimate his talents. Then you have Rubiel ?Matador? Mendez, who?s scheduled to return to the lineup from the injury list.
Based on what happens in Belmopan Saturday night in the Sagitun at Bandits game, Gatorade Juventus head coach, Jorge Nunez, may decide to rest his key players in the Griga game, but sources close to the Juventus franchise are saying that Coach Nunez may play his starting XI to get home field advantage and remain focused on a championship that has eluded them in the past few years.
Amandala has learned that 17-year-old Belize City, resident Floyd Jones, and teammate, Gilbert Swazo of Dangriga, had reportedly drifted away from the team for personal and educational reasons but are now back in camp for the remainder of the playoffs.
Griga, meanwhile, is reportedly in turmoil after not being able to win a game since entering the playoffs as regular season champs. Fingers are being pointed everywhere for their discouraging showing in post-season play. As one fan openly complained after their one nil loss last Sunday to the Bandits, ?Griga United don?t seem to be united at all; they give us high hopes every season only to disappoint us in the playoffs.?
Management points the finger at many of the players who refuse to listen to the coach, and many players point the finger at management who, they say, should leave the coach to do his job of running the team, instead of constantly telling the coach who should play and who shouldn?t. In one incident, according to a Griga United player, before the first playoff game against Sagitun the coach was ordered to fire a player minutes before kick off. The coach responded that firing wasn?t his job and that should be handled by the management team.
Sunday?s game may not mean anything to the Griga players, but the big names on the team should be reminded that playing at home brings huge expectations from the fans. Nothing less than a win is acceptable. To those players I would only want to say, you gave it a shot; now get to stepping.
The Sagitun vs Bandits game has less drama unfolding, except that we often have to revisit the Andy Hunt issue. Dean Flowers? tenacious appetite for winning can?t go unnoticed, and the Bandits would have to demand that of all their ballers, if they want to stop Belizean football fans from referring to them as the league?s bridesmaids.
The Bandits? loss to Sagitun a couple weeks ago was obviously a case of – why fix it if it wasn?t broke. Last week?s ?luck luster? win in Griga wasn?t an impressive win. It was luck to have ?Colombia? Benavides score the game?s only goal. As the saying goes, it?s better to be lucky than good. Even though they were not the latter, Bandits need to go back to playing the type of ball that they played last season with basically the same squad they have minus Andy Hunt.
They were successful in getting to the finals then. Why does it seem to be difficult this time around? The answer lies within the XI who suit up and take the pitch.
Sagitun, on the other hand, seemed to have taken last weekend?s two nil loss to Juventus as a wakeup call. Our sources in Mango Creek told us today that everyone was present at yesterday?s workout session, which is a first for the season. The question of why David ?Ratt? Torres didn?t get the nod to start in last week?s Sagi at Juvents match after he reportedly worked out the entire week, and Francis ?Carcass? Arzu got the green light and was rumored to have been absent, was put to rest after Amandala was told that Ratt decided not to play because he was injured.
Here?s the deal in a nutshell. Sagitun need one point to make eight and eliminate the Bandits. The Bandits need to win in regulation to roll sevens with Sagitun, and Juventus control their own destiny. Griga can only be looking forward to next season or end this year?s post-season winless streak.