Today the Belize Jaguars traveled to Grand Cayman for the return match in the first round World Cup Qualifier. Wednesday's nil-nil draw at the FFB stadium in Belmopan wasn't quite what we expected but when we spoke to the players today at the Phillip Goldson International airport, they were confident that their existing game plan is sturdy and according to them, they just need more focus and a little luck.
Charlie Slusher, Assistant Coach, Jaguars "I just think that the pressure from the home crowd - I think the guys really wanted to get a victory and maybe even trying to get the 6 goals that was anticipated and I think that we kind of lost our focus and was a little hasty when it comes to that final part of just settling down and making that final pass and making the goal. The level of concentration, I think was a little bit lack in the forward line. I think the goal keeper in the midfield was very great, but the last touches to get the goal was the part that we need to work on."
Courtney Weatherburne "How would you describe the level of preparedness going into Wednesday's game and now going into Sunday's big match against Cayman?"
Charlie Slusher, Assistant Coach, Jaguars "I think the team is very prepared. Like our coaching staff discussed that there is not much that we need to change when it comes to our strategy or our game plan, because I think other than just scoring the goals, we played an excellent game and as long as we continue focus and stick to our game plan and just make the necessary adjustment in the forward line to get the goals. I think our team is more than ready."
Dalton Eiley, West Wing Defense - Jaguars "A lot of people might not know, we have never played that team before and we've researched the internet and trying to get videos of games from them, but we never got anything. The only thing you will find is a U-21 or a female team. So, coming into the game, we were like walking in blind. Our plan was to give them the touch off and as they touch it off, just aggressed and see what they are capable of. We did that and we got an early shot at the goal and unfortunately we missed, but that's the game. That's how it goes. Now, we have a lot of confidence knowing that we could aggressed them as much and try to get the goals. The players are more confident now than in the first game. Now we know that we could play and we are definitely better than these guys and we have the talent, the youth to match up with them and we definitely are going to get some goals. We got opportunities, now the guys are even hungrier to score, especially for country and family."
Woodrow West, Goal Keeper, Jaguars "The only thing that I think we need to change is the goal scoring opportunities that we get. We are not taking advantage of them and as a goal keeper and a defender, it frustrates you a lot to see you team getting all those breaks and can't get the ball behind the net. But it's a positive thing for the team, because we reached the goal and we have a lot of opportunity to score. They forward, they know that, so we just need to go an execute that. That's the only work that we need to do."
Ian Gaynair, Right Defense, Jaguars "I think it's one of those days - when I say one of those days, I mean that the ball never wanted to in the net. We did everything else, but just didn't get the ball behind the net and I just think that unfortunately we couldn't score and definitely we are going to Cayman and we will be luckier there. Because sometime football play with a little bit of luck."
We can only hope that the trip turns out better than it started; we say that because the charter was supposed to leave at 12:30 and ended up leaving at5:30. The game takes place on Sunday night at 6:00 AT the Truman Bodden Sports Complex in George Town, Grand Cayman.
Belize Advances to Second Round of World Cup Qualifiers
The Belize football jaguars have managed to advance to the second round of the World Cup Qualifiers - after a 1-1 draw last night in Grand Cayman at the Truman Bodden Stadium. Channel 7 streamed the game live from Cayman - and our cameraman Codie Norales was also there for the post-game press conference. The Belize team talked about being taken off guard by a Cayman Goal in the fifth minute of play:..
Woodrow West, Goalkeeper, Belize "I think the team came out too aggressive and it cost us that goal, because we weren't focused on what we were doing. It catches us off-guard. It was a mistake by Danny Jimenez. We came out with a game plan and we didn't execute on the first 10 minutes of the game and cost us a goal due to an error on the back line."
Ian Gaynair, Defender - Belize "When the first goal score, all of us looked at each other like everyone got frightened, like we are down one now and I think when that goal scored, we gave that team a lot of life, because the game had just began and if they could score on us, then they know that they could win the game. We told each other to just settle down and we have 90 minutes to play the ball."
Charlie Slusher, Assistant Coach, Belize "You cannot come here on someone home and want to go all-out offensive and forget that the defensive aspect of the game."
Woodrow West, Goalkeeper, Belize "We try to correct it and in the second half, we did a great job by holding out the game without they scored on us and that cost us to walk into the second round with this tournament."
Reporter "Was Cayman compared to what you guys thought they were going to be coming in?"
Woodrow West, Goalkeeper, Belize "In Belize City, Cayman really played a defensive ball and they didn't attacked us as much as today and we were aware that they wanted to come to us, but not as aggressive as they did today. I think it cost us on a wrong foot and they ended up getting a goal."
Abijah Rivers, Captain - Cayman National Team "It's really unfortunate that we played two games and didn't lose any. It hurts to lose on a set piece. It really hurts. We gave it a great effort all 11 players, even the subs that came on put in a good shift and I think the guys hold their head up high."
Elroy Kuylen, Scored Belize's Only Goal "During the training session after the first game I was practicing a lot of my free kicks and I got one and I made the opportunity get it behind the net. We got to come out steaming because we wanted a win and we had all the opportunity in Belize and didn't scored any goal."
Reporter "How are you feeling after this one?"
Mark Ebanks, Scored Cayman's Only Goal "Sad. Honestly. We did a lot of training for this. We gave it our all and unfortunately we didn't moved on."
Charlie Slusher, Assistant Coach, Belize "At the end of the day, it's not what we wanted, or we didn't want to play that way, but we accomplished our goal which is to advance to the next round. Whether it was a pretty one or an ugly one - sometime you got to take what you can get in this circumstances, because it's sad that when you need to come on the road to win a game when you had the opportunity to win in your country and you lose that opportunity. So, for us it's a blessing that we still managed to make it to the next round."
Reporter "What would you think could have been done differently to sort of seal a victory, in terms of breaking the 1-1 draw?"
Woodrow West, Goalkeeper, Belize "Just the goal. It's a problem we had from the previous game - we missing so many goals. We could have done this game from last Wednesday in Belize. We came out today and still falter the goals. We got the forward, the defense - they did their job to keep the ball up front and we just couldn't get the ball behind the net. I think there is a problem with the team, we need to just work on the finishing part now and try to get on our feet because after this the games are just going to be harder from now on."
Elroy Kuylen, Scored Belize's Only Goal "I just think the players need to focused more and keep it simple. When we get into the last third part of the field and try to get the ball behind the net and hold your composer when you are close to the goal, because goals wins the game."
Reporter "One goal away from qualifying for the World Cup. How does that feel?"
Mark Ebanks, Scored Cayman's Only Goal "When I scored the goal, I thought we were going to sealed it, lock up shop and just played the rest of the game defending that goal, but unfortunately we gave away a free kick and they punished us for it, but I scored the second goal and they took it away from us and that was like a heartbreaker right there."
Reporter "Do you think that you guys were underestimated coming into this? Do you think most people thought that you would draw both games with Belize?"
Abijah Rivers, Captain - Cayman National Team "When we landed in Belize, the local media stormed us and the first thing that caught our attention is that they were saying that were going to give us 6-0. Two games, two draws, they scored one goal on us - that speaks for itself."
Ian Gaynair, Defender - Belize "This team went to Belize and we could draw the game 0-0. This team knew that they could play ball against us. They came home on their pitch, got all their fans, and got everybody. I think they gained lots of confidence to play better than us yesterday."
Reporter "Has this been a humbling experience for the Jaguars, in terms of underestimating and actually looking at what these individual teams are worth and going into the game prepared to do battle?"
Charlie Slusher, Assistant Coach, Belize "I think it has been and also a wakeup call for the guys to not just to underestimate teams, but basically to make use of the opportunities when you have it. We cannot have a team that we can beat and then you don't beat them."
Woodrow West, Goalkeeper, Belize "We came out here and I think the players took the team very likely and team really played us good today. Hopefully in training, we get our finishing together and maybe Deon McCauley joins the team as well because he is a key player on the team as well and we need him too."
Ian Gaynair, Defender - Belize "The first thing. You never take your opponent likely and I think that is where all of us slip down - all of us failed. We were already at Dominica and we did never got over this team yet. We already thought we were going to load up this team and give them so much goal and it didn't happen. Like I say, you never take your opponent likely. I think we need to have respect for our opponent. Its 11 against 11 on the field and I could assure the country that the next round will be better and we will get back our striker Deon McCauley who everyone wants and we are seeking another striker who is at Honduras. I think we have a lot of time to prepare and I think we will pass the next round too, because this is a big learning experience and a wakeup call for all of us."
Though both games ended in draws, Belize advances by virtue of scoring a goal on their opponents' home field. Belize now advances to the second round of the World Cup Qualifiers against the Dominican Republic in June.