Cuba Crushes Belize, Jaguars Fail To Qualify Hopes were high when the Belize Jaguars took the field in Hartford, Connecticut today – that’s because there was a mathematical possibility that – even after losing its first two games – Belize had a chance to advance to the quarterfinals – that is if we could somehow win by four goals over Cuba. Now that’s a mighty big “if”, but when it’s eleven versus eleven on the field, hope is all you have. Like thousands of Belizeans, we were watching closely – and here’s how the first half went.
Jules Vasquez reporting
Belize was represented big time at today's game draping the bleachers in the Belize flag. The mass of them stood behind the Belize bench making the National Anthem audible in the vast 40,000 seat stadium and certainly producing mass cold seed during the Land of the Free.
But the game would be played on the field - not on the stands which is why goalkeeper Woodrow West was probably praying for a major miracle - Belize would have to win by four goals to advance.
The team did show a defensive attitude early on as Deon McCauley charged for this ball but every other time he got the ball he was smothered. The team tried to find shots on goal and had a few good looks and even found some space but what they gained in offence they lost in defence and in a pattern that would become symptomatic of the entire game. The Cuban strikers easily got pass the Belize defenders leaving Woodrow West to make multiple dramatic saves.
West was on point but demonstrative and angry with his defenders who could not keep the Cubans infront of them.
Cuban's goalkeeper Molina didn't have much work in the first half while stayed very busy and very angry as the Cubans kept passing his defenders to attack and after a while it would be a matter of time before Cuba capitalized on a multiple defensive breakdown and scored in the 37th minute.
Belize made it to the half down only one-nil but clearly exposed.
And while Jules Vasquez tracked the first half, in the second half where it didn’t get much better for team Belize. In fact it got much worse – as the team, already wobbly on defence was full exposed to an attacking Cuba side. Here’s how it went quickly downhill in the second half.
The second goal came from Cuba’s Striker Martinez in the 64 minute. After Defender Ian Gaynair is ejected for 2 yellow cards, the Belizean defensive line completely opened up, and Martinez scored another goal at the 84th minute.
In the injury time, Cuba squeezed in one more goal on Belize, qualify for the second round with their goal average.
Jaguars At War And in our last bit about the national football selection tonight – we note that there is some genuine bitterness within the team’s ranks – which, to some extent is inevitable after any crushing defeat, much less three in a row on the biggest stage Belize football has ever been on.
Travis “Burger” Lennan, a perennial starter who was benched until late in the second half of the last two games told KREM and LOVE fm when he was leaving the stadium that he’s not happy with the changes.
"I think I should have played from earlier, I was sitting down for too long."
"why was that?"
"I don't know why he didn't call me."
"You were physically ready?"
I am ready long time, I don't like to missing these games, we didn't play on the bench. He didn't use me he put me in until late when the pressure was over with my team. Yes because it's hard to do something if you wait until five minutes to go in, that is no time to play football, we trained hard to come here to play full 90 and now we are playing ten, fifteen minutes."
Of course, all this discontent now goes into the stew of visions and revisions that will have to be made when the team returns and Belize re-launches its football hopes…
Sports Commentary: Belize's national team has a long way to go
By Wellington C. Ramos
Former Belize national football player
Since the Belize national team played at the Alliance Stadium in Houston Texas years ago, which I witnessed firsthand, and they lost to Mexico 2-0, I have been following up all the games they played so far. I must say that, back in my days in the 1970s, when I played football with Police Invaders, Trial Farm, Caribbean Eleven, Astros, Riverside All Orange Walk Selection, Chito’s Eleven and Ubafu in New York City, there were a lot better football players and teams in Belize. Why? Because back then the players were playing because they loved the sport, were dedicated and played to win by giving it their all. They also came from neighbourhoods in their cities and towns where there was always this youth rivalry and primary school competitions that were intense.
I played with and against outstanding players such as Poppy Smith, Theo Lennon, Timmy Bedran, Speedy Henry, Arturo Azuetta, Negro Hall, Contreras, Bucko Torres, West, Marcello, Gene Guild, Mandingo Barnett, Fabian Rivero, Ricky Gongora, Enrique Carballo, Studd Hendricks, Garincha Adderly, Buck Palacio, Orin Orio, Nolbert Moss, Arthur Patur Roches, Raboo Garcia, Patrick Martinez Kalde, William Pine Sampson, Terrence Genus, Tash Gueterrez, Teenage Cacho, Chicken Cacho, Bucko Thompson, Junior Wagner, George Wagner, Noel Ferguson, Roho Rabbateau, Bunny Cal, Rupert Anderson, Patatuk Cuthkelvin, Punzin Martin Petillo, Roy Garcia Lawkins, Davis, Maurice Jones, Kissy, Pelis Neal, Brazilian, Michael Hyde, Jumping Jack Sutherland, Chuck Gueterrez, Stanley Robinson, Nayo Waight, Jex, Paco Lewis, Nick DuJohn, Harry Cadle, Matthew Williams, Nollie Lieva, Cheesie Flowers, Matute, Romaldo Lambey, Mark Anthony Chavarria, Renan Briceno, Mike Martinez, Big Mole, Timmo Flores, Easley Velasquez, and several others whose names I cannot remember.
These men were no joke to reckon with and they all deserve to be recognized in the Belize Football Hall of Fame, which is taking too long to be established, for their contributions to football in Belize. They all played football about 35 years or more ago and we should be seeing better football playing in Belize but we are not. Belize now needs to focus on our youths by investing in several football academies, fields, clubs, equipment, facilities and coaches. Primary and high schools should have ongoing competitions so that the schools can compete among themselves and their players will develop into superb footballers. Most of the players I played with or against played for their community football teams, primary and high schools.
For those who did not attend high school because of lack of money, they entered the work force and continued to play for a team. We now have junior colleges and universities in Belize so we should start tournaments among those institutions so that they could also compete. In the world, most countries select their national teams from their high school age population and that makes a lot of sense.
Belize can set up a committee to select the best players in the entire country after the high school competition is completed. I recommend that they have an A and a B team with a roster of about 21 players each. The players that are selected will then be taken to a national training camp from the time they are about 16 years old to be trained for about three years. When they are finished from the training camp or while they are in training, they can either play for their colleges or universities or be drafted by professional teams to continue to play football.
A special committee should be established to select the players for the Belize national team. Since Belize has two football leagues, namely, the F.F.B. and the Premier League, each league should select its own players.
The two selections could play a game against each other and the team that wins should form the core of the team to represent the country. However, the team that loses must be kept intact as the B team to replace players from the A team that are injured or not performing to standards.
Recently, the league brought back the inter-district football competition. The village of San Antonio in Corozal District won but they received no significant promotion for their victory. To encourage the players in this league, the FFB should consider elevating the first, second and third place teams into the Premier League and waive the entrance fee bond, which most teams cannot afford because it is too excessive.
The government of Belize can make money from football by committing themselves to build a state of the art football stadium that meets FIFA standards in each major town and city in the country of Belize. They should establish a sport super bond to get the funds for it. All the games to be played in football and other sports will be played at these stadiums and they will be able to pay for themselves as we go along.
Saying that they have no money is not acceptable to our youths because this will help to reduce the crime rate, gangs and other anti-social activities that are presently occurring in Belize.
Belize is just playing football for playing sake. When I watch the games that have been played so far, I do not see the determination and effort coming from these players that they are playing to win their games. They keep passing the ball to their opponents, they are not positioning themselves freely to get the ball, they lag in the goal area a lot and cause congestion, they are not shooting to score goals, they bring the ball back to their goal too many times, they are not attacking, they are not playing man to man tagging, the midfielders should take the game to the half field line and keep the game there to pressure the opposing teams, too much dribbling and losing the ball, they are playing too slow as if they have all the time to score goals.
The games are flat and dead. The games they play today should be about communicating with each other, playing a half-field game, passing, attacking, tagging players, moving around, staying on the lines and cut, shooting and scoring. If they take my advice, not only will they win today but they will see more victories. I do not mind losing a game but I’d rather lose a game when I am convinced that all the players gave it their 100%.
Caribbean News Now