BELIZE CITY, Mon. June 8, 2015–It was free for all to enter the MCC Grounds yesterday at 4:00 p.m. for a poorly advertised and unexpected training match between our Belize National “A” Team and the Melchor football selection; and it was just as well, for the performance of the national team was anything but inspiring, eking out a 1-nil victory, on a Deon McCaulay goal, against an obviously lower level opponent, and prompting some skeptical fans to question the $50.00 being asked to see the team perform against the Dominican Republic this coming Sunday at the FFB Stadium.
According to assistant coach Charlie Slusher, the venue for the national team’s last training match before travelling on Tuesday had to be changed from the FFB Stadium on short notice, because the FFB Stadium was to undergo inspection by CONCACAF officials to certify if it is acceptable for this year’s Champions League tournament games. And they were intentionally employing a defensive posture, in preparation for the away game on Thursday against Dominican Republic.
If we can find comfort in anything, it is that none of our players were injured on the treacherous MCC pitch, which no doubt aided in the depressing performance.
Scrambling through our notebook, we saw that before travelling to the Gold Cup in 2013, our 23 man strong national team dealt a 13:0 trashing to a Melchor Selection at the Norman Broaster Stadium on June 26, 2013. That Belize national team was better financed, better prepared and garnered a lot of fan support. With the recent failings of the FFB, this team is poorly financed, but they have their courage and determination and the love of the Belizean people to count on when they step out to meet the challenge in Santo Domingo.
If the 23 man roster is cut to 20 for the trip tomorrow, inside sources say third goalkeeper Keith Allen, midfielder Nahjib Guerra (injured ankle), and one more player will stay behind. The 23-man national team comprises: Woodrow West (goalkeeper); Shane Orio (goalkeeper); Keith Allen (goalkeeper); Amin August; Andres Makin; Brian Hulse; Dalton Eiley; Daniel Jimenez; Denmark Casey; Deon McCaulay; Devon Makin; Elroy Kuylen; Elroy Smith; Harrison Roches; Ian Gaynair; Jordi Polanco; Khalil Velasquez; Marlon Meza; Marvin Centeno; Randy Padilla; Trevor Lennen; Evan Mariano; and Nahjib Guerra.
Coach Jorge Nunez and assistant coach Charlie Slusher are upbeat and optimistic; but at this sports desk we have concerns. The odds are heavily against us; but our boys have a lot of fight in them, and we hope to keep it close for the return match. All we can do is stay together now, guys, and weather the coming storm like true warriors from the Bay. Back home we will be praying.
Belize united! Le’s go, Belize!!