Belize national U-21 football team wins 2-0 over El Salvador
Friday, 07 April 2006
By William Ysaguirre - Freelance Writer
History was made at the Carl Ramos Stadium in Dangriga on Sunday, April 2 where the Belize national under 21 football team won a 2-0 upset of the UNCAF defending champions, the under 21 male selection from El Salvador.
The high school stars of the Belize Premiere Football League, Marlon Meza of Hankook Verdes and Dion Macaulay of Kremandala Penta scored the goals for the resounding victory that clearly demonstrated that Belizean football has advanced to a new level, and that no more would Belizean footballers have to stomach the 4-0 and 8-0 walkovers of the past.
The visitors star-studded lineup included striker Shawn Martin Henriquez and goalkeeper Henry Edimar Hernandez Cruz, both of the Club Deportivo Aguila, which leads the professional football competition in El Salvador. Striker Jose Nelson Reyes Manzanares pressed the visitors’ attack most aggressively with midfielders #4 Isaac Zelaya Saravia, #8 Jose Portillo Hernandez and #20 Cristian Reyes Cruz breaking up the Belizean plays and feeding the ball forward to their winger, #5 Ronald Alexander Pimentel.
The visitors early on recognized the threat posed by Lennox “Criminal” Castillo, star striker for defending champions, New Site Erei, and he was constantly double-teamed by #3 Jose Henriquez Dubon and and #15 Alvaro Ramirez Magana, with #19 Cristina Portillo Salgado holding down the other defensive position.
Belize’s attack line included Ryan Simpson , also of New Site Erei and Gilbert Swazo of Wagiya, backed up at midfield by Harrison Tasher of Wagiya, Floyd Bailey, David Macaulay of Kremandala and Bernard Linares of Placencia Pirates.
Tyrone Pandy of Wagiya, Ian Gaynair of Kremandala and Shannon Flowers of F.C. Belize held down the backfield for the home eleven.
Harrison Tasher gave the home fans an early thrill with a long shot at goal from 30 yards out, but it sailed over the crossbar. Gilbert Swazo also threatened with penetrations on the right flank, creating plays with the cross to center for Ryan Simpson and Castillo to follow through.
Castillo and Bailey also made forays on the left flank, but seemed to run out of field. The loose chaff left on the field after the grass was mowed seemed to be causing problems for the Belize players to keep their feet, even for Dangriga players for whom the Carl Ramos is their home turf.
After won such sliding fiasco, the Belize coach Ian Mork replaced Bailey with Marlon Meza in the 30th minute of play.
Belize’s best chance of a goal in the first half came when Lennox Castillo advanced up the right flank, beat the last defender Jose Henriquez and was about to walk into the goal with the ball when the whistle blew.
It was a much sobered Salvadoran side who retired to the bench at intermission, as they were not dominating the play in the manner of visiting Salvadoran teams of the past. The Salvadoran technical director Mauricio Alfaro Valladares chose to refresh his attack line with substitutes #9 Franklin Granados and #23 Mauricio Vaquerano Lara in the second half.
The visitors pressed their attack with renewed enthusiasm, determined to seize the advantage, but Belizean goalkeeper Woodrow West stood his ground, sometimes coming out of goal to the edge of the 30 yard box to forestall an attack and return the ball forward.
Some 15 minutes of the second half had elapsed with Ryan Simpson pressing the attack inside the visitors’ goal area, when he was fouled by #3 Jose Henriquez and the Nicaraguan referee ruled penalty kick and also ticketed Henriquez. Marlon Meza converted the kick to give Belize The visitors counterattacked furiously, now desperate for the equalizer, but a clash between #23 Muaricio Vaquerano and Woodrow West caused the referee to caution Vaquerano with a yelow card.
Harrison Tasher would also be similarly cautioned for his hard defense against Jose Nelson Reyes Manzanares.
Tasher ended up hors d’ combat after one such encounter in the Belize goal area and he would be relieved by Dion Macaulay of Kremandala.
The game was into the final three minutes of injury time allowd by the referee when Lennox Castillo got off a shot which Hernandez could not hold. He deflected the ball back into play where Macaulay recovered the rebound and slapped in a second goal in the second minute of injury time for the 2-0 victory.
The Belize team travelled to El Salvador Sunday night after the game, arriving in early Monday morning to play the rematch of the home and away series in San Salvador on Wednesday night at 7:00 PM. The two games is part of a qualifying round for the Central American games, which if Belize wins, will then send the Belize team to the Central American and Caribean Games. A victory there would advance Belize to the Panamerican Games and eventually the Olympics, but Belize has not yet registered for the Olympics.