Twenty Footballers Bound For The DR

Tonight at FFB Headquarters in Belmopan, the National Football Team, the Jaguars are huddled, preparing to play in the Dominican Republic next week in the round two of the world cup qualifiers. The team scraped past Cayman in the first round, but are hoping for better in round two. Why is that? Well, the intangible is Deon McCauley, Belize’s only world class striker who has proven himself extraordinarily adept at scoring in World Cup Qualifiers. Today the team was introduced to the media and we found them confident and upbeat:…

Jules Vasquez reporting….

Give or a take a couple, these are the twenty men who will be representing Belize in the Dominican Republic this Thursday in Santo Domingo at the Estadio Olimpico Felix Sanchez.

Deon Mcauley is the major addition to the roster:

Deon McCauley - Striker

"I'm fitting in very good right now, everybody welcome me back, happy for me to be back. I'm also happy to be here, happy to be able to help the team. The chemistry is good, everything is going good, scoring goals in practice and in practice matches. Everything is going fine so far."

Charlie Slusher - Assistant Coach

"Everyone will agree just having Deon there is a sense of relief, it makes life easier for the coach, even when it comes to the other players they feel a bit more confident to have Deon there. So again it makes it much more easier for the entire programme to be successful. Now we are more confident with Deon there that we can advance pass the Dominican Republic. But not just having Deon there, he has been working very hard, he has been a leader since he reached here. We really love the positivity and the leadership he has shown since the first day he have come to camp."

Jules Vasquez

"Are you in game shape?"

Deon McCauley

"Yes, I'm 100 percent. if you talk to any of the coaches, any of the players, anybody that have seen me train or played any game - I'm 100 percent, 100 percent ready. I feel in the best shape possible right now."

Charlie Slusher

"I think we can presently say he is now in game shape, he has played a lot of games. Not just local games and against each other – but even in all the games that Deon have played he has scored two to three goals. It's not just that Jules, we have acknowledge that there was maybe a possibility - you know the talking before Deon was here probably he wasn't in game shape. What we have done, the moment Deon came to camp, we played a lot of football. A lot of games, a lot of the practices was geared towards game conditioning. So even if he wasn't there, he got every opportunity to be there and we're happy to say Deon is definitely ready."

Woodrow West - Goalkeeper

"Well the only problem we had with the previous team was not scoring. Deon McCauley has joined the squad now and he has shown a lot of progress. In all the games we've played he scored at least two or three goals per game. He's on a rhythm right now, so the team just has to work for him and he will take us out of the water if it comes to him like that."

Deon McCauley

"I know what it is like to be out there playing international games, especially games of these calibre world cup qualifying. I have scored 13 of my 17 goals in world cup qualifiers and I feel that – it’s not a big adjustment for me to make. I think that I will respond and I will prove myself out there and score goals."

And the coaching staff says the team is ready with a new system and chemistry developed over a period of time:

Hon. John Saldivar - National Team Coordinator

"That we have been in training with this national team since November of last year. Unprecedented in the history of national team selections."

Charlie Slusher

"The whole philosophy of the team have changed. In the past I don't know if it has to do with coaching or what ever. The confidence level with the team was very poor when it comes to playing. That's why we were always defensive or just wait to be slaughtered. Now with the new coaching staff our philosophy now is that we need to take the game to these guys. There's no longer waiting to be slaughtered, we need to take the game to these guys. Whether we press them or we start to attack them but we'll just not lay back and believe that these guys are better than us. As long as we put in the preparation we believe we can play football."

Woodrow West

"This is one of the times I could surely say we finally found a system that we will play and the players are very comfortable doing it. The practice game that we played showed that, yes, we have learned a lot out of the system."

Deon McCauley

"We have trained on the beach of Dangriga and also in Mountain Pine Ridge for a week. So with the training we are getting now it's very good and the team is responding well."

They say it is a happy team that is going to the DR:

Deon McCauley

"I feel that with the team that we have now, we have put together one for the best teams that we have seen in a long time, including me. I think that everything will work fine with this team."

Reporter

"West, is it a happy united team that's going to the Dominican Republic?"

Woodrow West

"Yes ma'am. Everybody is happy and everybody is enjoying workout itself and we're having fun on the field and putting in our work. If the coach says 70 minutes or running - which we didn't like to do from way back and now he gets 60 minutes of running from us if he says 60 minutes. The players are in good condition and in very good moods."

But, still, no one wanted to make predictions this time:

Hon. John Saldivar

"We have high expectations of our team but I will not venture to make any predictions as our president did the last time - but we do expect a good performance from this team."

Goalkeeper Shane Moody Orio is also among the 20 players who will travel to the Dominican Republic – he arrived in camp last week. Coaches say it will be a game time decision as to whether he or Woodrow West will start in goal.

Notably absent from the team is standout Midfielder Jared Davis – who – we are told - abandoned the team and went to the US a few weeks ago.

The team has played a few friendlies in Peten Guatemala but against club teams. That continues on Sunday at 4:00 pm when they play a Melchor selection at the FFB Stadium – admission to that game is free.

The following Sunday they will be playing the world cup qualifier on that same field – and tickets for that game are fifty dollars, available at SMART offices countrywide.

Channel 7