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Marion Jones Splashdown!!

SportsMarion Jones Splashdown!!

Photo: Verdes FC

Verdes FC vs Port Layola FC

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Mar. 16, 2023

There is no need for any bombastic hype to stir up football fever among Belize City fans going into Sunday’s interesting clash between visiting Verdes FC from San Ignacio, Cayo District, and home standing Port Layola FC from the old capital by the sea. A game such as this between two of the league leaders in the Premier League of Belize (PLB) 2022-2023 Closing Season should have been at the historic MCC Garden; but, alas, neglect and abuse and then Hurricane Lisa have all conspired to reduce the once Mecca of Belize football to a derelict state, awaiting the meeting of minds between Government (National Sports Council) and FIFA (Football Federation of Belize) or some other possible funding entity (from the diaspora?), so that the football entertainment industry can really take off in the city.

But Verdes vs Port Layola at this time would be a blockbuster wherever it is played. There is just too much drama and intrigue and some history surrounding this clash of top level Belize football.

Something spectacular could well happen on Sunday afternoon at Marion Jones, but it is not likely the same as some thirty-seven years ago when another Verdes encountered on the national stage at the MCC a then undefeated Belize City champion. It was an all-Belizean affair back then, with some sensational blossoming young talent destabilizing the then national champions from the west in dramatic fashion.

Though they have recently reigned as national champions for a few years, Verdes FC, with all their foreign imports mixed with top local talent, are not the current champions, having been dethroned only in a penalty shootout by Mango Creek’s Altitude FC; but they recently avenged that loss with a smashing 3-0 shutout of Altitude at the Norman Broaster. Verdes FC is still a powerhouse near the top of the standings, and they are determined to go all the way to the championship and thus secure another berth, which would be their third or fourth consecutive in Concacaf.

But there is no small obstacle this Sunday for Verdes, for their opponents need no motivation to give their very best to the many football fans who will surely find their way to the Marion Jones. After struggling in their debut Opening Season, Port Layola’s coach Marvin Ottley and able assistant Julius Allen have seen their unique collection of veteran and young talents come together as a solid unit in this Closing Season, where they have so far been undefeated on the field. Their only “loss” came by way of a paper technicality, after they had upset Verdes, 2-1, early in the season on Verdes’ own home turf in San Ignacio. The PLB had rejected a Verdes protest after the match, but the FFB Appeal Committee overruled and awarded the victory and 3 points to Verdes. It is still a bitter pill for Port Layola players and fans to swallow, and manager Leaton St. Clair says that they are appealing the FFB ruling.

But in the meantime, there are matters to be settled; and with an international match for Belize against Guatemala only a couple weeks away, it is to be hoped that the competitive energy between rivals is righteously tempered with that awareness in mind, as the nation needs all our talents in good form to defend the Jewel.

Upcoming PLB Week 10 schedule:

Saturday, March 18
7:30 p.m. – San Pedro Pirates FC vs International FC – Ambergris Stadium

Sunday, March 19
3:30 p.m. – Progresso FC vs Police/Benque United FC – People’s Stadium
4:00 p.m. – Wagiya FC vs Altitude FC – Carl Ramos Stadium
4:00 p.m. Port Layola FC vs Verdes FC – Marion Jones Stadium

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