BELIZE CITY, Mon. Dec. 9, 2019– The Premier League of Belize (PLB) 2019-2020 Opening Season is down to its final game this coming weekend, after game 1 of the final series ended in a 1-1 draw last night at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium between home standing Bandits Sport and Verdes FC. Verdes took a 1-nil lead at the 35th minute, after left midfielder Denmark Casey’s cross-goal floater found advancing right-side striker Krisean Lopez, who unleashed a right-footed half-volley from 15 yards that caromed off the body of Bandits defender Carlos Urtilla and past goalkeeper Shane Orio into the net. The equalizer for the Bandits came a few seconds before the intermission, when a Verdes defensive lapse saw Bandits’ veteran right midfielder, Danny Jimenez receive a pass all alone just outside the eighteen on the right side. Danny had time to touch the ball once, and then, before any defender could reach him, he blasted a hard grounder to the “far corner” past a bewildered Woodrow West in goal, landing just inside the left goalpost to tighten the net for the 1-1 tie in first half injury-time (45+1’).
The first half was very intense in attack and countering tackles from both teams, with Salvadoran referee Ismael Melendez proving his FIFA badge was not for show, as he did well to keep both sides under control. But in second half, there was more caution from both sides, neither of whom could secure the win. Verdes seemed to have the advantage in midfield play, causing Bandits’ ace striker Georgie Welcome to do a lot of midfield work, and forcing the Bandits to make two midfield changes towards a more defensive posture – Andres Makin for Roberto Silva de Lima, and Humberto Requena for Danny Jimenez; while Verdes maintained their midfield foursome of Norman Anderson, Edwin Bernal, Jordy Polanco and Denmark Casey all game long. Verdes’ only substitution was the veteran Jarret Davis for striker Trimayne Harris, who still looks uncomfortable in the Verdes attacking formation, wasting a number of good opportunities.
Verdes 1 (Krisean Lopez 35’) – Bandits 1 (Daniel Jimenez 45+1’)
Verdes FC – goalkeeper #27 Woodrow West, #20 Sebastian Vergara, #6 Elroy Smith, #99 Evral Trapp, #14 Darrel Myvette, #15 Norman Anderson, #33 Edwin Bernal, #16 Jordy Polanco, #12 Denmark Casey, #25 Krisean Lopez, #29 Trimayne Harris (#10 Jarret Davis at 55’); coach – Cesar Martin.
Bandits Sport – goalkeeper #1 Shane Orio, #17 Ian Gaynair, #13 Dalton Eiley, #2 Carlos Urtilla, #19 Trevor Lennan, #16 Daniel Jimenez (#21 Humberto Requena at 81’), #8 Kevin Vicente, #10 Roberto Silva de Lima (Andres Makin, Jr. at 71’), #7 Nahjib Guerra, #5 Jefrie James (#4 Highking Roberts at 72’), #9 Georgie Welcome; coach – Kent Gabourel.
Game Officials: Referee – Ismael Alexander Cornejo Melendez (El Salvador); Asst. Ref. – Juan Francisco Zumba Galan (El Salvador); Asst. Ref. – Jose Antonio Mangandi Artero (El Salvador); 4th Official – Efrain Guy (Belize).
Notably absent from the Verdes line-up in game 1 was league leading scorer, Mexican Mariano Landero, who was reportedly injured in practice. If Landero suits up for game 2 this coming weekend, the scales would definitely tip in favor of Verdes; but when eleven face eleven, it is still anybody’s call, in a block-buster match-up of the two top seeds in regular season for the PLB Opening Season championship – Verdes vs Bandits Part 2. We can’t miss this one!
The schedule below is official. The early start, according to PLB manager Wilhelm Miguel, is in case of a need for overtime. Remember that there is no “away goal rule” in the Final; a goal is a goal.
Sunday, December 15, Finals Game 2
3:30 p.m. – Verdes FC vs Bandits Sport – Norman Broaster Stadium