BELMOPAN, Thurs. Mar. 18, 2021– Some 34 Belize based players were called up for training camp with the national team exactly one month ago on February 18, and at 11:00 this morning the Football Federation of Belize (FFB) held a zoom-launch where the final 23-man national team roster for upcoming World Cup Qualifiers, was presented to fans at home and abroad. The team includes seven internationals. Two former foreign-based national team members, Michael Salazar and Tony Rocha could not join the Jaguars for these WC Qualifiers, because they are presently playing for clubs in the MLS, which would require a 10-day quarantine when they returned to their clubs.
FFB Communications and Marketing Director, Yashmin Juan hosted the launch, which included an opening prayer by goalkeeper and team vice-captain, Woodrow West; a welcome address by FFB President, Sergio Chuc; the introduction of each of the 23 National “A Team players by legendary striker, Maurice Jones; some remarks by FFB General Secretary, Earl Jones; followed by an overview by FFB Executive Member, Marlon Kuylen, who thanked Government for allowing our national team to train in a “bubble” the last month, and commended the tremendous hard work and sacrifice endured by the players and the coaching staff, who were completely shut away from family and all outside interactions for the entire month of training. He noted that all 23 players had “earned the right to be here,” and that “there are no entitlement passes being given out at the FFB.”
Head coach Dale Pelayo then reviewed the journey that started back in mid-October of last year, where some 49 players, under the guidance of their coaching staff, focused their energy on a strict online training program that had specific emphasis on endurance, strength and speed; which were determining factors in the initial cut based on fitness tests conducted in mid-February of this year. So that, when the month-long 34-member camp was opened in the FFB “bubble” on February 22, the staff could dedicate time to skills, strategy and team play development, after which the final cut was only made this week. Pelayo thanked the FFB President and his Executive for putting everything in place “to make the players feel at home” while restricted to the “bubble” for training. “Today I must say, the players who made this final cut gave up a lot, sacrificed themselves and their family, and gave everything to make sure they were part of the final 23 to represent Belize. Today, I am excited as the coach; our players are excited. I believe we are on a right path… I am much confident that this team we will go out… not only to take part in this tournament, but to compete in this tournament to show where our football in Belize is today.”
Next were a few words from some of the players, including rookie Angelo Capello, who noted that “it is always an honor to represent my country;” veteran star and team captain, Deon McCaulay, who said the team needs all the support from the Belizean people – “we need your positive energy,” and also had words of encouragement for the players that did not make the cut; and the Vote of Thanks by Jose Urbina of Mango Creek, who observed that, through the month of hard work and isolation inside the training “bubble” at the FFB Stadium, “We have become a team, a team worthy of representing our beautiful nation.”
Below is the Belize National “A” Team, the Belize Jaguars official roster:
PLAYERS: Goalkeepers – Woodrow West (Verdes FC), Eithon Wagner (Police United FC), Isaac Castillo (Capital United FC). Defenders – Jose Urbina (Altitude FC), Asrel Sutherland (San Pedro Pirates FC), Ian Gaynair (Bandits Sports), Norman Anderson (Verdes FC), Mike Atkinson (North Leigh FC, England), Deshawon Nembhard (Charleston Battery FC, USA), Collin Westby (Verdes FC), Evral Trapp (Verdes FC). Midfielders – Johny El Zein (Aris Limassol FC, Dubai), Nana Mensah (Michigan Stars, USA), Carlos Bernardez (Platense Honduras), Angelo Cappello (Sheffield United, England), Andres Makin, Jr. (Bandits Sports), Ean Lewis (Belize Defence Force FC), Nahjib Guerra (Bandits Sports), Jordy Polanco (Verdes FC), Jesse August (Altitude FC). Forwards – Deon McCaulay (Ginga Atlanta, USA), Desmond Wade (Belize Defence Force FC), Krisean Lopez (Verdes FC).
TECHNICAL STAFF: Head Coach – Dale Pelayo, Sr.; Assistant Coach – Marvin Ottley; Manager – Raynard Garbutt; Goalkeeper Coach – Stanley Reneau; Physical Trainer – Dennis Serano; Physical Therapist – Ben Aba; Doctor – Dr. Carlos Crespo; Equipment Manager – Herbert Trapp, Jr.
The Belize National “A” Team delegation is scheduled to leave Belize on Sunday for our first game against Haiti in Haiti on March 25, and then a clash with Turks & Caicos Islands on March 30 in the Dominican Republic.
Go, Jaguars! Le’s go, Belize!!