Says It is Rebuilding

The Football Federation of Belize is preparing for the first round of the World Cup 2018 qualifiers. Game one is on Wednesday night at the FFB stadium against the Cayman Islands. Belize is ranked about fifty places higher than their national team - so betting types might be tempted to ride with the home team. But those betters don't know for sure what they are going to get form this new team - because half of it has been reconstituted. 13 of the players who went to the gold cup in 2013 are not on this new squad. They new lineup and the new look were introduced today at FFB headquarters in Belmopan and 7News was there:..

Jules Vasquez reporting
This is the logo you'll be cheering for this weekend: And this is the team:

Ruperto Vicente, President - FFB
"Belize has never gone to war with a gun, but we are preparing these young men to go into war for Belize and they will defend our national flag. They will defend the name Belize."

But amongst these football warriors you'll see lots of new faces, and many young ones - in fact 7 of them under 23.

The team managers say it is a deliberate strategy of rebuilding:

Charlie Slusher, Asst, Coach
"This team is 80% more or less young players. We are going through a transformation. So, a lot of the faces that you use to see in the past are not here. We are thinking about the future Jules and there is no way we can develop going to the future if we do not rebuild."

Ruperto Vicente, President - FFB
"Our goal here at the federation is rebuilding and we continue to rebuild. I want to emphasize on the fact that some of the changes we are making is that being on the National Team, is no longer automatic. Whether you be good or bad, or good player or bad player - it's no longer automatic."

Hon. John Saldivar, National Team Coordinator
"This last effort which started in November, we have been deliberate to ensure that the younger players get a fair opportunity and by a fair opportunity, we mean that the coaches get a good opportunity to look at the skill-set of these younger players and I have been assured by the coaching staff that they have indeed looked at these young players and do believe that they are at this current time the best that Belize has to offer."

Ruperto Vicente, President - FFB
"The reason we have a lot of young players on this team is because we are also looking forward to the next gold cup. This team should be a giant team in the next gold cup qualifiers and that's what we are preparing for."

Jules Vasquez
"How do you feel about this team which is a combination of youth and experience?"

Ian Gaynair, Veteran Defender - 32caps
"I feel good about it and I think it is good for a change and I think it is really good for Belize National Team, because at the end of the day, we need to start grow up and while we are growing we have good, quality young players on our team."

But even though it is a rebuilding year - management is confident that the team can advance:

Ruperto Vicente, President - FFB
"We are going to pass this hurdle. I am sure that we can get over Cayman, get over Dominica and get to the third round and play against Guatemala or El Salvador."

And so with that kind of confidence - what's the prediction for Wednesday night?

Ruperto Vicente, President - FFB
"We are looking at 6 nil. That's right. We are going for 6 - nil and that's what I want."

Ian Gaynair, Veteran Defender - 32caps
"I don't want to put any pressure on my country, but definitely we will win 2 - nil, because like how I am playing defense, I don't think we will give up any goal, me and Woodrow West, Dalton Eiley and Elroy Smith - the whole defense. I just want the whole country to come out and come watch a nice football game Wednesday night."

Woodrow West, Goalkeeper - 17 Caps
"Our National Team will be playing the first time together since all those hype-ness from gold cup. We are here now in front of our fans and I think they are going to appreciate it and I want to ask them to come out and support us and we will try to pull off the win for them to start on the right foot for this qualifier."

The team as you might have noticed had no logo's on their jersey's as sponsorship is still an issue. There are rumours that BTL would pull out as a main sponsor but the FFB says they have not gotten that in writing. The team has been in camp since November of last year and the budget so far is 220 thousand dollars.

The Deon Dilemma: Should Belize’s Best Striker Be Given Special Consideration?

And while we showed you the team, the logo, the newcomers, and all that good stuff…the elephant in the room today is the one who wasn't in the room: Deon McCauley, Belize's most prolific scorer in World Cup Qualifiers. He is not on the team - and will not play against Cayman. Last night you heard him say that he never got even a call from the FFB - even thought he's willing and able to play.

Well, there are very many sides to that story - but the FFB has sent the media proof that Vice President Marlon Kuylen was texting him up to February of this year inquiring about his availability and his readiness.

Today at the press conference the McCauley issue took center stage - where the media pressed the executive for answers and his father, football legend Manu McCauley showed up in his son's defence. So who's right and who's wrong? - We'll let you decide from the many allegations and counter allegations:..

Charlie Slusher, Asst, Coach
"Deon is missed from the team basically and any national team would have love to have him there. He is one of our top players. On the other point, I know for a fact that we have been in communications with Deon and that's a fact, not me personally, the assistant coach, the executive member. Jules, after the press conference you could check the phone and you could check the correspondence between Deon and the assistant coach, as well as the executive member Mr. Marlon Kuylen, where they both speak about how are you doing and back and forth and when you are coming and all that. So, when the press conference is done, there is evidence of that."

Reporter
"You are saying that they have Facebook evidence that they were having conversations with him, checking up on him?"

David "Manu" McCauley, Deon's Father
"That's not so. Definitely it's a bunch of lies. I have perfect communications with Deon. If the FFB would have touch base with Deon, I surely would have known."

Charlie Slusher, Asst, Coach
"Say for example it was a communication problem - we didn't reached out to Deon, Deon could have also reached out to us and say well Charlie or Mr. Nunez, and we would have definitely tried to work and getting him a ticket to come here or bring him in. But there were no formal request from Deon to us."

Ruperto Vicente, President - FFB
"Football is discipline. So, we all have responsibilities. And Deon, his father is here, my good friend - he also have to bear some of the responsibilities not being on the National Team at this point. When this first call was made, Deon was in the country. He was in Belize and Deon left here like 3 weeks ago. He should have made some arrangements with the federation. We all have responsibilities and none of these players standing behind me - none of them, got any personal call, to be on the National Team - not one."

Ian Gaynair, Veteran Defender - 32caps
"Deon is like my best friend and I think he will surely be missed, but then I just try not to get in the administrative problem and stuff. I think we just have to do with the guys we have here, but like I say he will be missed and I would love for him to come back after these two games. He just need to be the bigger man too and show up, because all of us here, nobody never did call us, we just show up and put in their time."

David "Manu" McCauley, Deon's Father
"He is one of the top players in the country. He is not an ordinary player. How could you treat a top player for your country this way - like he is nothing? I mean to say that's totally wrong."

Reporter
"You don't think that some of the responsibility is on Deon's part? I mean reached out to the FFB."

David "Manu" McCauley, Deon's Father
"I don't think so. I believe that if you are an international player, the FFB should have made some kind of effort to make that connection."

Charlie Slusher, Asst, Coach
"If Deon was active, he could have come in this week or last week and fit in to the team. But you haven't been playing ball for over 6 months or more and there is talking about assumption. We can only assume if there is no evidence."

Reporter
"As a footballer yourself, they are saying that Deon isn't in top shape and top form right now, because he hasn't been playing. Don't you think it's fair that perhaps they are using players who have been active?"

David "Manu" McCauley, Deon's Father
"If you undergo a surgery for a sport injury, you need time to recover - 4-6 weeks. After 4-6 weeks, Deon is training, Deon is 90%-95% in condition."

Charlie Slusher, Asst, Coach
"If Deon was active, he could have come in this week or last week and fit in to the team. But you haven't been playing ball for over 6 months or more."

David "Manu" McCauley, Deon's Father
"They sit there and saying things that are not so. Deon just finish a one year contract with Silverbacks the first week in November. He had a sports injury which took him 4-6 weeks to recover. Deon is fully recovered. Nobody ever get any kind of communication to Deon to find out what's his position."

Charlie Slusher, Asst, Coach
"Deon is on the list and he is still part of the team, but he cannot be activated for the Cayman game because of those reasons. It's not because of any personal reason or anything, but he has to come in and put in the same work that all these guys have been doing from last year November. All I am saying is that whenever Deon is ready to come to camp and be a part of the team, he is welcome and he in on the list. The mere fact that he is not excluded from the world cup qualifier matches is because we still want Deon to be part of it."

Ruperto Vicente, President - FFB
"Deon is on our National Team program as the coach had said. If Deon comes to practice and prepare for the June game, he will be there."

Reporter
"Now they have said that Deon can just show up and be apart. Is that something that is going to be difficult for him to get back here?"

David "Manu" McCauley, Deon's Father
"It's not going to be difficult, but if they had contacted Deon and made arrangements for Deon to come - Deon is in Atlanta right now, he is working on a another contract - If they do the right thing, Deon would have been here."

Charlie Slusher, Asst, Coach
"His name was in the papers, his name was on the sports news, so he knew that he was part of this team."

David "Manu" McCauley, Deon's Father
"And they are talking about he is on the list. I went on the Facebook page of FFB and I didn't see Deon's name on that list. The only two international name I saw on that list were Shane and Elroy Smith, his name wasn't there, so they sit there and blatantly telling lies."

Reporter
"How much of this do you think has to do with the fallout he had with John Saldivar, who is now the national team coordinator?"

David "Manu" McCauley, Deon's Father
"It had a lot and the effects is showing."

Hon. John Saldivar, National Team Coordinator
"For me to say based on what accusations have been made out there, again, it is the coaching staff that is entirely and solely responsible for the selection of this team."

Reporter
"Your son is one of the biggest international player for Belize undoubtedly, how much of an impact do you think his absence will have on the upcoming game, in terms of offence?"

David "Manu" McCauley, Deon's Father
"Well, it's going to have a big... all countries is looking forward to see Deon. They are strategizing how they are going to play Deon."

If things can be worked out - and that is a very big if - McCauley could be ready for round two in June.

Channel 7