BELIZE CITY, Wed. July 3, 2019
Turn of events
The wheels have been turning fast in the football machine these past couple days, and this evening we learned that it will not be two Belize City teams in the home-and-away finals of the National Amateur League Championship (NALC) 2019 inter-district tournament, as there had been a major turn of events in the final moments of Sunday’s semifinal 2nd leg match at the MCC Grounds between Club Atletico from Belmopan and Belize City’s Barrack Road FC. Their previous outing at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium was a 1-1 draw, so the winner on Sunday at the MCC would move on to the finals against Caesar Ridge FC.
According to the NALC release on Monday of this week, a 75th minute penalty conversion had given Barrack Road FC the 2-1 lead over Club Atletico at the MCC. The terse release had simply stated the goal scoring statistics, namely, for Barrack Road FC – Francis Andrews 4 min, Steven Baizar 75 min (PK); and for Club Atletico – Arnoldo Delarosa 71 min (PK). And the final score was given as 2-1 in favor of Barrack Road. Therefore, according to that release, it was, as we stated in our Tuesday issue page 22 story, “National Amateur League Inter-District Semifinal Game 2 results; two Belize City teams in Finals.”
Change of ruling
But we had received unofficial reports of incidents near the end of the game; and according to those reports, the behavior of some Barrack Road players had prompted the referee to “blow off” the game with some minutes remaining.
Yesterday, Tuesday, we received an FFB release informing that a penalty had been awarded to Club Atletico in injury time, and the protests by some Barrack Road players resulted in 3 red cards issued and the game “blown off.” The referee had first awarded a direct kick just outside the eighteen; but on his linesman’s intervention, saying that the infraction in fact occurred inside the eighteen, he proceeded to change his ruling and instead awarded a penalty; upon which emotions boiled over with some Barrack Road players, who were thus red carded before the referee blew off the game with 3 minutes of injury time remaining. On reviewing video footage of the incident, the release said that the NALC Organizing Committee was “… satisfied that Assistant Referee number 2 was correct in his assessment that the hand ball was in fact in the eighteen-yard box and thus acted proper and correctly in his ruling for a penalty kick.”
According to yesterday’s release, the decision of the NALC Organizing Committee, which met on Monday, was that the remainder of the game, including the taking of the penalty by Atletico, would be played on Wednesday evening at 6:00 p.m. at the MCC, and the roster by Barrack Road would be minus the 4 players red-carded on Sunday.
Away goal effect
Today, we are getting a better appreciation of the extreme reaction of the disgruntled Barrack Road players. They had already lost their most fearsome shooter from distance when midfielder Jael Ottley was red-carded earlier in the game. On a wet pitch, with the lines not brightly marked, it has been almost a tradition in close games, that fouls committed near the eighteen yard line would almost routinely be placed just outside the box by the referee; which is what was apparently done in this game, to the satisfaction of Barrack Road players. With the score then at 2-1, and it NOT being a finals series, it meant that the “away goal rule” was in effect. So, if Club Atletico were awarded a penalty, and it was scored, the score would be tied at 2-2, and aggregate 3-3 when the 1-1 from game 1 was included; but with the away-goal rule then kicking in to break the deadlock, this would give Atletico a 5-4 aggregate advantage (away-goal count is doubled), and Barrack Road would only have 3 minutes of injury time to try and score again. When the linesman intervened, yesterday’s NALC release said that the referee “changed his decision from an indirect free kick on the border of the eighteen yards box to a direct free kick from the penalty spot.” In view of the circumstances described above, to Barrack Road players, that was the game. It was over for them; and they reacted emotionally, and, regrettably, some threats were made that resulted in automatic red cards.
Barrack Road forfeits
Barrack Road FC was a no-show at the MCC today. Some fans were discussing the possibility of Barrack Road goalie, Alvin Mangandi stopping the penalty kick, and his short-staffed team then defending the next 3 minutes of injury time for the 2-1 win. But while there we encountered FFB President Emeritus, Delhart Courtney, who observed that it was impossible for Barrack Road to field a team today, because with 4 ejections they could not meet the minimum 8-player requirement. So, then, the forfeiture was academic.
BELIZE CITY, Thurs. July 4, 2019
This evening, it was made official in a release from the NALC Organizing Committee (see NALC release elsewhere in this issue), and it will be defending champion Club Atletico vs Caesar Ridge FC in game 1 of the Finals this Saturday night in Belmopan.
Saturday, July 6, Finals 1st leg
8:00 p.m. – Club Atletico vs Caesar Ridge FC – FFB Stadium
(Amandala Sports Ed. Note: It is most unfortunate whenever a playoff semifinal or final match ends in controversy, which is why the referee appointed to such matches should always be the very best available individual. Nevertheless, players with any ambition in sport must know that the referee is the BOSS on the field. Respect is due! Always and every time!!)