Sports — 13 July 2019
Showdown at the Garden

Belize City’s Caesar Ridge FC vs Belmopan’s Club Atletico for NALC Championship 2019

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. July 11, 2019– The Football Federation of Belize’s (FFB) 20-team National (1st Division) Amateur League Competition (NALC) 2019, with 2 teams each representing the 10 football zones of the country, is now down to its final 2 teams – defending national champion, Club Atletico of Belmopan and Caesar Ridge FC of Belize City.

In the semifinals, Caesar Ridge FC cruised to a 4-1 (2-0, 2-1) aggregate win over Roaring Creek FC; and the series between Barrack Road FC and Club Atletico had seemed to be over with Barrack Road FC the 3-2 (1-1, 2-1) aggregate winner, following the Monday, July 1, report from the NALC secretariat.  But the situation changed drastically in the next couple days, after a Monday meeting of the NALC Organizing Committee, which ordered a resumption of Sunday’s game 2 on Wednesday evening, July 3, including a penalty kick for Club Atletico, the ejection of 3 Barrack Road players, and then the continuation of 3 minutes of injury time. (An incident had reportedly occurred during injury time in Sunday’s game, whereupon the referee “blew off” the game after issuing red cards to 3 Barrack Road players.)  Following an aborted 3:00 p.m. Wednesday meeting, where reportedly the referee and Barrack Road representatives appeared, but no rep. from Club Atletico or the NACL, the 6:00 p.m. scheduled game was awarded as a forfeit to Club Atletico, when they appeared at the MCC with no Barrack Road team in attendance.  So, the week began with the finals announced between Belize City rivals, Caesar Ridge FC and Barrack Road FC; but by Thursday, July 4, the official position had changed, and a release from the NALC Organizing Committee stated:  “Game one of the finals series between Caesar Ridge FC and Club Atletico kicks off on Saturday, July 6, at 8:00 p.m. at the Football Federation of Belize Stadium.”

Well, the NALC Finals game 1 is “in the books.” And it shows Club Atletico with a 1-0 win over Caesar Ridge FC, courtesy of a second half strike from a scramble in front of goal by Andrew “Chu Chu” Allen (68’). The game was played on Saturday night, July 6, at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium.

Game 2 “for all the marbles” takes place this Sunday afternoon, July 14, at the MCC Grounds, which was once dubbed “the Garden” in its glory days of some memorable championship encounters. In those days, the MCC was one of the best grass pitches in the country; today, regrettably, it is one of the worst. Nevertheless, our Belize City players will be giving their all to defend the “swamp” against the invaders from the capital city. In a sense, Caesar Ridge FC will be “sweating fever” for fellow old capital residents, Barrack Road FC, who are nursing some gripes against their treatment in the semifinals.

It’s been a long time since a game at the MCC has had so much fan interest and energy surrounding it. National Team scouts are expected to be keenly observing the performance and conduct of players in this big championship match. It’s the new capital versus the old; the Hill against the swamp; from the carpet turf at Isidoro Beaton, to the rough “horse gallop” at the MCC.

A reminder to fans, the “away goal rule” is NOT in effect in a championship series. Club Atletico now leads, 1-0. If tied in aggregate goals at the end of ninety on Sunday, it’s overtime.

NALC Finals Game 2:
Sunday, July 14
3:30 p.m. – Caesar Ridge FC vs Club Atletico – MCC Grounds

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Deshawn Swasey

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