BELIZE CITY, Mon. Apr. 29, 2019– Both 1st leg games in the home-and-away semifinals of the Premier League of Belize (PLB) 2018-2019 Closing Season kicked off at the same time (4:00 p.m.) yesterday afternoon, and in both games it was the “road” team coming away with a victory by a 1-goal margin. With road victories a frequent occurrence in this highly competitive Closing Season, 1 goal is not much of a cushion, so both 2nd leg games should see a massive turnout of home fans, as each series winner advances to the finals, and the losers “go home.”
After drawing with them twice in regular season (1-1 and 0-0), 3rd seed Verdes FC took their semifinal home game against 2nd seed Bandits Sport to the newly Astro-turfed FFB Stadium, next door to the on-going Agric Show; but the change of venue did not bring a better result for the home team, as Verdes FC ended up on the short end of a 4-3 score. It was a relatively high scoring game for these two, with 3 penalties awarded and converted, 2 in favor of Verdes and 1 for the Bandits. Shaking the net for Bandits were Trimayne “Peppa” Harris (12’) and Georgie Welcome (57’ PK, 68’ & 71’); while Verdes’ goals came from Elroy Smith (22’ PK & 89’ PK) and Elroy “Bibbs” Kuylen (50’), reportedly from another classical free kick.
Meanwhile, here on the uneven and dusty pitch of the MCC Grounds in Belize City, it was a physical and hotly contested affair between visiting #1 seed San Pedro Pirates and #4 seed BDF FC, whose last loss was back in February in Week 7, when they were at the bottom of the standings. Since then, the army had a draw, and then racked up 5 consecutive victories, ending their regular season with a 2-2 draw against Police United, whom they eliminated from the playoffs. But in Sunday’s semifinal, BDF’s hot young strikers – Camilo Sanchez, Jesse August and Kyle Budna could not get a goal against San Pedro’s experienced defense, despite a number of good chances; and it was a late penalty conversion by San Pedro’s Honduran midfielder Anderson Cordoba (85’ PK) that proved the margin of victory for the visitors.
Notably absent from the BDF line-up yesterday was star midfielder, Raymond Ramos, who was reportedly travelling with the National Beach Soccer Team that won a tournament in Mexico. He should be back in the BDF line-up for the 2nd leg in San Pedro, but they will be without the services of young striker/midfielder Latrell Middleton, who was red-carded late in the game.
Regular Season back match
The Week 14 back match between Freedom Fighters FC and Assassins Altitude FC was also played on Sunday at the Victor Sanchez Union Field, where Assassins prevailed, 1-0, on a goal by Andres Orozco (41’), who thus joined 3 others – Camilo Sanchez (BDF), Elroy Smith (Verdes) and Highking Roberts (Wagiya), with 9 goals each.
Semifinals 2nd leg schedule:
Saturday, May 4
7:30 p.m. – San Pedro Pirates FC vs BDF FC – Ambergris Caye
8:00 p.m. – Bandits Sport vs Verdes FC – Isidoro Beaton Stadium
P.S. We were reliably informed this evening that coach Marvin Ottley has not been with the Verdes FC team since his last game a week ago when they drew 1-1 with Wagiya, thus dropping out of the race for a CONCACAF berth, which was thus secured by Bandits Sport. Known for his stern defensive approach, Marvin’s absence may have something to do with the unusually high number of goals (4) that Verdes allowed on Sunday against the Bandits.