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Belize City
Wednesday, July 28, 2021
Home Sports Okay, the talking?s over ? BIG DANCE!!!

Okay, the talking?s over ? BIG DANCE!!!


If you look at Juventus, they have won a total of five national championships, all coming in the 90?s, and they were definitely the dynasty at the semi-pro football level then. They won three league championships and two knockouts, giving them their five titles in the 90?s.


When Juventus gets this far in the tournament, that?s because they are undoubtedly a well put together squad, and championship material. After Juventus won in the 90?s, Acros won and then Sagitun came on the scene and won, followed by Kulcha Yabra, who went on to win back-to-back championships, with Sagitun coming back to win.


Sagitun have been to the finals twice and won both times they have been to the Big Dance. Juventus has been there once in the last five years. They lost to Kulcha in 2001, and now they return to the finals.


Based on their experience going to the Big Dance, Sagitun may have an edge. The Orange Walk team was able to get ?home grown? players like Oliver ?Lion Heart? Hendricks, Raul Celiz, Chris Hendricks, etc. All these guys are made up of championship material ? a big heart and the will to win. But not going to post season play for such a long time, Juventus has a few young players who don?t know what it?s like going to a championship.


We are predicting that the series will be going to three games because both teams, if you look at their road record, are not really good road teams but have awesome home records. If you look at Sagitun over the past two years, they have been the best home team, and the same can be said about Juventus. Juventus this season are ranked 6thaway from home. Sagitun is right behind them.


Another point is the number of goals both teams are able to score. They are two very offensive minded teams with Sagitun giving the least number of goals in the playoffs. History over the years has proven whenever Sagitun is headed to the championships, their defenses get extremely stingy, giving up very little. Juventus, on the other hand, in the past three games gave up eight goals, which doesn?t look too good in the statistics.


Both benches are deep. Sagitun can bring dangerous weapons off the bench, and so can Juventus. Juventus, though, has the upper hand here, with more experienced players coming off the bench.


Gatorade Juventus head coach, Jorge Nunez, who went to the last championship finals but came up empty handed, is a very capable coach who has earned respect from a majority of his colleagues where team preparation is concerned.


Sagitun had to get a new coach after their first coach was released early in the tournament, but the new coach has gotten the understanding of every Sagi player, along with the leadership of Hilly Muschamp, and so they made a big turn around from the regular season through to the playoffs.


These games may not end up in penalty shootouts, because of the offensive arsenals of both squads.


In midfield, Sagitun may have the edge because of Marcos ?Magoo? Soto?s ball handling capability, his ability to create space and his knowledge of the game, in addition to the size of the pitch at the People?s Stadium, which plays into his game. Sagi?s flank midfielders are a little bit quicker and stronger than Juventus? flank midfielders.


Since the return of Orlando ?Daddy? Ramirez, Juventus have been surrendering fewer goals, but as a team Juventus doesn?t seem to defend exceptionally well. To stop Sagitun they would have to do a better job at team defense.


Sagitun will definitely have problems with Oliver ?Lionheart? Hendricks. If they decide to double team him, Daniel Thomas, Chris Hendricks, Raul Celiz, and perhaps Rubiel ?El Matador? Mendez, will get good looks at goal. Mendez often sneaks into the attack area as an offensive midfielder.


In the goal they are fairly matched, though Giovanni Rodriguez has slipped a bit, perhaps due to the double duty he has been pulling as team manager and ?portero.? Darren Hinds can be ranked along with Shane Moody-Orio, Charlie Slusher, and Giovanni as the top goalkeepers in the nation.


Coming off the bench Juventus has the edge with Daniel Thomas, Christopher Hendricks, Rubiel Mendez and others. They are about five deep, whereas Sagitun are only about three deep. The most important factors for Sagi coming off the bench are Delvin Andino and Jose Lara. Lara is a good defender and could play the sweeper position, which would allow Hilly Muschamp to move to the middle or forward.


The man to watch in this championship series could be Juventus? Daniel Thomas, who has become a right place at the right time sort of player. We can?t forget about regular season MVP Oliver ?Lionhheart? Hendricks (Juventus), Hilly Muschamp of Sagitun and the little used Gary Young, also of Sagitun.


Game One of the series starts this Saturday, July 30th,7:30 p.m. at the Michael Ashcroft Stadium in Independence. It should be a beauty. (Much props to Kulcha Yabra head coach, Marvin Ottley, for his invaluable contribution to this article.)

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