Right now, the contingent of players and coaching staff for the Belize National Team are on a flight to the Dominican Republic which left Miami a short while ago. They are ready after preparing just over 3 months to take on that country's national team, and as you may well know, Belize's Premier Striker, Deon McCauley is with them.
Just before they boarded the flight to leave the PGIA, we spoke with them about the mood of the entire team going into game one against the Dominican Republic. Here's what they told us:
Deon McCauley - Member, Belize National Team "Everybody prepared. I think the coach and staff did a good job in preparing the team. Physically, its only left to the players to go out there mentally prepared, focus and ready for the game on Thursday."
Reporter "Alright, you are known as one of Belize's most prolific strikers, but even the best strikers need support. Do you feel that you have that with this team that had been put together?"
Deon McCauley - Member, Belize National Team "Well, of course, I think that we have a solid team offensively and defensively, so I think that with the players that we have I believe that we will get a good result in Dominica."
Reporter "Alright, this team is said to be a different team, a different Jaguars with a mix of the old and the new and more focused on offense. Is that what you've seen coming from the team?"
Deon McCauley - Member, Belize National Team "Well with football you have to be organized defensively and offensively, but this game is a game that without goals you can't win. Offensively, we have to be strong as well and know how to go up against any team on any given day to score and to make sure that we get the result that we need to pass this round."
Woodrow West - Member, Belize National Team "I feel very confident, we have a good chemistry, we have a good system that we play so it's just a matter of time that we can showcase that system and make Belize proud."
Trevor "Burger" Lennon - Member, Belize National Team "I think we will win because the guys in the team that we have right now, the team is playing together but there are little ups and downs in the system and so, but the way I see the team right now, the team is ready to go and win. I've been in the national team so long and I lose a lot with them and right now the football is just getting a little professional in Belize. Right now we are playing good. We are getting back and we are not taking a licking like first."
Harrison "Cafu" Roches - Member, Belize National Team "I am very optimistic and I thank God once again for the opportunity to represent the country and I am proud for the national team once again. We will go out there with our hands and heart to go out there and do our best and hopefully we will come home with a victory."
Carlos "Charlie" Slusher - Assistant Coach, Belize National Team "I think the team is a little bit confident. Confident, not over confident but I think the team is feeling good that they know that they
have prepared very well from November of last year so when it comes to that aspect they know that won't be a problem going to the game. I think the guys are excited to make this game a reality in the sense of coming home with a victory for the Belizean people."
News Director Jules Vasquez is currently travelling with them to the DR, and we'll be providing you with on the ground coverage of the team in that country.
Channel 5 Has Exclusive Rights to Belize-DR World Cup Qualifier
This Thursday, the Belize Jaguars will play the Dominican Republic team in their own turf at the Estadio Olympico Felix Sanchez in Santo Domingo. The national football team departed on Tuesday and spent today practicing. We are pleased to report tonight that Great Belize Productions/ Channel Five is acquiring the exclusive media rights to the international game in Dom Rep. It means that you will be able to watch the game exclusively on this station so get ready to follow the national team as they compete on their road to the World Cup. Our live broadcast from the Dominican Republic starts at one-thirty p.m. this Thursday. This station will also be carrying the live broadcast of the game in Belize, live from the F.F.B. stadium in Belmopan. That game starts at three-thirty on live on this station for all the coverage of the games.
FINAL! 2-1 Belize! couple great saves by our goalie Moody-Orio in extra time... game two in Belmopan Sunday!
the coverage by Channel Five was excellent!
The second match will be a home game at the Football Federation of Belize (FFB) Stadium in Belmopan City on Sunday, June 14th at 4PM. Tickets for the match are on sale at SMART outlets across the country and at the FFB office in Belmopan. Admission price is $50 per person. The winner of this match will advance to the third round of competition.
At around 2 p.m. this afternoon in the Dominican Republic, the Belize National Team, the Jaguars, took to the football pitch to face off against that country's national team and after 90 minutes of play time, plus injury time, the Jaguars managed to defeat the DR Team 2 goals to 1.
It's a huge victory, and Belize's two goals were scored by the country's premier striker, Deon McCauley, who put one behind the net early in the first half. The Dominican Republic manage to sneak one past Belize Goal Keeper Shane Orio, but late in the game, McCauley made a repeat performance gave Belize a 2 second goal.
7New Director Jules Vasquez is in the Dominican Republic right now, and right after the game, he got a reaction from the players about the big time performance they put on get this result. Here's what they had to say:
Deon McCauley, Scored 2 Goals "The first goal was a penalty. Thank God that the ball rebound back in my path and I ended up putting the ball in the back of the net and the other goal late in the game that was wonderful. A wonderful pass from Evan Mariano on the right wing and I was able to displace the goal keeper and the defender and put the ball in open goal. That's just a striker's instinct in the last moment of any game. We have to try and still win the game no matter what score it is."
Shane Moody Orio, Goalkeeper "Very difficult game Jules. We got an early goal and I think that that gave us a lot of confidence, but during the second half the Dominican team they did a lot of adjustments; they change from playing with one forward, they started with two and then at the end of the game they started with three. After the 1-1 we stumbled a little bit, but thank God we were able to gain on composure back and play as a unit and the last goal that Deon scored gave us the victory."
Charlie Slusher, Assistant Coach "I think we must be happy that we won the game first of all. We achieved our goal. I think we kind of stray from some of our game plan early in the game. I think one of the biggest problems is that we started to drop back too deep in our defense and started to be defensive. We never did practice to lay back and stay in our half and defend and I think that created a lot of problems for us."
Deon McCauley, Scored 2 Goals "I think the team was complacent going into the second half with the 1-nil win and we weren't focusing on the game anymore. That's a thing that we have to address. We have to stay focus for 90 minutes every time we step on the field. There were some instances that they were really pressuring us and we were crumbling in the back. I mean, that happens in football sometimes. We just have to go back to square one, look at the game and reevaluate ourselves and come out back Sunday and try to win again."
Shane Moody Orio, Goalkeeper "Factors and things like this will always come up in a football game and like I told the team today, the difference is that we were able to capitalize on out two opportunities and that's the big difference. But again, the series is not over, we need to finish it at home. The same way we came over here and win, the Dominica team could go to Belize and win. So, we need to be focused, we need to know that okay, whatever celebration that is going to happen, it has to be here in the locker room and stays here in the locker room. Because from here we need to go to the pool, try to relax and think about the game. The series is not over. Yes, we have an advantage, we won the first leg, but there is a second leg and the most important thing is that we have 90 minutes and hope that the people will come out and support us and that we will be at home."
Deon McCauley, Scored 2 Goals "It's just the support of the country. This a World Cup qualifying and we have to be prideful and play from our hearts and that's what we will bring on Sunday as well."
Belize returns to the FFB Stadium in Belmopan where they will take on the DR National Team at the FFB Stadium on Sunday. Later on in the news, we'll show you a bit more from the team in the Santo Domingo.
Planning For Belize Victory Against DR
Belize beat the Dominican Republic "2-1" three hours ago in Santo Domingo. It was a thrilling game, and a tremendous win for Belize.
7News was there with the team - and we'll have their post-game reactions shortly. But they say they key to success is preparation, and that started this morning at the courtyard Marriot in Santo Domingo -when the team had its last strategy session -Jules Vasquez was allowed to sit in:..
Jules Vasquez reporting
This morning at 9:00 the team gathered in a hotel conference room for an X's and O's session. In a very thorough 90-minute meeting, Assistant Coach Charlie Slusher outlined a detailed game plan - but more than just X's and 0's, he urged them to seize the moment:
Charlie Slusher, Assistant Coach "Life could be hard on us, if we don't handle ourselves today."
Slusher also went over what the coaching staff wanted on the defensive and offensive ends. He also warned them against bad habits.
Charlie Slusher, Assistant Coach "The amount of crowd that start moving, there is no way you could pick up that man. You have to be close to your people who you will mark and have the advantage to protect the goal from him."
The team was attentive and focused - both veterans and younger players, stayed locked in throughout the meeting.
But, Slusher had help. The veterans on the team like Elroy Smith, Shane Orio, Elroy Kuylen and Cafu Roches spoke up on the finer details of on field tactics.
Shane Moody Orio, Goalkeeper "It is important for the whole country and the team to go out there and score. And if we score one, don't just sit back and say okay we just score one."
There were also various bouts of applause, and near the end a good amount of laughter and playful teasing.
But, in closing the team leaders kept everyone focused:
Dion McCauley "Don't complete the game and just do what we need to do to win this game. We know that all of us in here are talented enough to win this game."
Dalton Eiley, West Wing Defense "We have the man power and capabilities of getting goals. Just keep that confident level going."
Charlie Slusher, Assistant Coach "We can make history guys for our country again, to make it to the third round. First time Belize have made it to the third round of the World Cup qualifiers. Listen to me, a lot of people might doubt us, but if you don't believe in your dream and that it could come through, you will not reach anywhere."
And not just dreams, prayer too, shoulder to shoulder - followed by one last charge:..
Charlie Slusher, Assistant Coach "Let us work and try to do as much as we could at the end of the day if we don't make it - we try our best to reach far."
Keeping The Team Focused For Game 2 Against DR
Super striker Deon McAuley scored two goals - and we must now wait for the return match on Sunday at the FFB Stadium to see if Belize can make history by advancing to the third round of group play.
But, a lot can go wrong between then and now when the team returns home to ecstatic fans. This evening in Santo Domingo Jules Vasquez asked the head of delegation, FFB Vice President Marlon Kuylen what they will do to make sure the team doesn't celebrate before Sunday's victory is secure:
Jules Vasquez "You all are going back to Belize now. How do you feel about managing the team, because when you get home there will be elation and you can easily fall into that and '[boy] let us party'. How do you contain these guys and keep them focus for the real game that comes this Sunday."
Marlon Kuylen - FFB VICE PRESIDENT "We don't even have to wait until we're home Jules. These guys want to celebrate now as it is. We are the Dominican Republic, but we are all focused. They know that the job isn't done. Yes, this is a huge victory but we have to go out there Sunday and at least draw or preferably win again. So when we get back home to Belize, in fact we're staying here at the hotel tonight. Nobody's going out tonight. When we get back to Belize, we'll book them into a hotel and we'll have them there until Sunday. After we play the match then we can celebrate but in the meantime everybody's focus on the job at hand."
Jules Vasquez "Ok, now we are near the 3rd round. Entering 3rd round we are hold up. How do you and federation feel about this being at this spot? Where we haven't reach there yet, but just being here?"
Marlon Kuylen - FFB VICE PRESIDENT "Well, we're very happy and there's a lot of negative vibes going on with Deon case and now he's back and he has scored 2 goals today -- but you know what? That's all in the past. The federation stuck to their principles. The group brought in Deon. We're here now. We're about to go to the 3rd round and that's what's very important. Now, the Dominican Republic has about 6 international players. The guy that scored today plays for Parma in Italy. They started their local players today and then they started bringing in their international players. i can bet that on Sunday in Belize, they will be starting all their international players. So it's not over yet. We're half way there but it's not over yet. So we need the fans to come out. Our players need to know that the country is behind them and they need the cheering and the drums and everything that goes into this because it won't be an easy task for sure."
Sunday's game will be aired live on Channel 7 starting at 4:00 pm.
Realistic Expectations: Will the Jaguars Prevail Again on Sunday?
But with a win in the Dominican Republic, are the Belize Jaguars ready to defend its turf and what are their predictions for the game?
Deon McCauley, Striker, Belize Jaguars
“The hard work that this team put in and the hard work that I put in, I mean with that alone, I know that this team will do good on Sunday. You just have to wait and see on Sunday and come out and see the game; that’s all I have to say. Come out and see the game and see our team perform and see our team win.”
Danny Jimenez, Right Wing Forward, Belize Jaguars
“Well I will be honest. Not because we are up two-one we will get complacent and think the game done. It noh done yet cause we got a game Sunday and honestly I think the pitch we played on played a big factor for both teams because the DR team got some quality players too weh could touch the ball, but on the pitch we played, nobody who could touch wah ball can’t put ten touch together cause the field was…some field ina Belize weh we play semi-pro far better than dah field deh.”
“Your anticipations for Sunday?”
Ian Gaynair, Forward, Belize Jaguars
“Don’t want to predict the game. When yo predict the game, sometimes yo make it harder on yourself. But I can assure the country that we definitely have an entertaining game for them, so I would like for everyone to come out and support us.”
“They always say yo have the home advantage. So you think that will play in your favor?”
“Fi we backyard we wah play, feel even much better than the one we play in Dominican Republic.”
Shane Orio, Goalkeeper, Belize Jaguars
“No prediction; I just hope that the team would come out with the same attitude, the same mindset that we came out with yesterday and get the job done. Again there is no way that we can take this team for granted. They have real experienced players. The number three plays in I think Spain, the number ten that scored the goal plays in Italy, and they started with four foreign players; two were on the bench. And I believe imagine the next two foreign players will be inserted on Sunday. So this is no playing. As players, we need to get serious.”
Charlie Slusher, Assistant Coach, Belize Jaguars
“We can expect a better game—football-wise, technical-wise and we are at home so we really want to although we got a pretty win, it doesn’t matter. We still want to make the Belizean people know that this team can play football. So we want to win this game Sunday by playing football. We cannot be foolish and just want to impress our country and think about scoring a lot of goals and forget that we cannot allow them to score one or two, so we still have to remain very cautious in the way we will attack these guys.”