And Canít Pass The Ball

This weekend, the Gold Cup ended with the USA edging out Panama one-nil in a close final game. It was the closest finish for the American who had smashed all their competition - Belize included - with dominating performances.

Watching the game in Chicago were two very special guests of CONCACAF, Woodrow West and Ian Gaynair. They earned the invite to an all expenses paid evening in Chicago and a trip to the game by displaying outstanding integrity and patriotism when they turned down a bribe from a match fixer who had been following Belizeís team.

And that is about the brightest spot coming out of a Gold Cup in which Belize finished with no points and the greatest goal differential. Itís a learning experience so we take it in stride, but the sober discussion about what direction that stride will be in, has to start. And self styled football historian Michael Finnegan is willing to set things off. For months heís been contributing to the Amandala with compelling narratives of football in the 60ís and 70ís when Finnegan was a team manager. His acumen in the sport is considerable, and last wee we sat down with him for an extended conversation on the nationalís team strengths and weaknesses. Hereís what he told us-

Hon. Michael Finnegan- Minister of Housing and Urban Development
"I watched the three games and in my view the Belize Team tried their very best and we have to congratulate them and their performance - 'when a man on earth has done his best, not even the angels in heaven can do better.' "

Jules Vasquez
"They have achieved what no other Belizean has."

Hon. Michael Finnegan
"They have achieved more because they have the opportunities right now. Let me tell you something - the Dangriga team that won the first inter football competition would have beaten this team anytime 3 - 0."

Jules Vasquez
"No, how can you say that?"

Hon. Michael Finnegan
"That is my view."

Jules Vasquez
"Yes, but it's not even an all-star team that you're talking about."

Hon. Michael Finnegan
"I'm telling you that is my view, I'm telling you that the level of football - where it was. I watched the Belize Team against the United States - the Belize Team couldn't pass the ball. You cannot curate offence if you can't pass and that game all of them dropped back in their defensive mode. There was no middle - that is where Pappy Smith and Pilis Neal were needed, that is where Gary Orderley and Buck Palacio were needed - that's all I am saying. The Belize Team have absolutely no mid-field, if you don't have mid-field then you cannot have offence - it is not taking away anything from the Belize Team because I don't want to debase anybody. The Belize Team - in my view - they did their best, but something is wrong with the team because the team is not all that bad and we have to touch the button to know what is wrong with that team. In my view, there are two things that I think is wrong with the Belize Team - they cannot pass the ball and they cannot pass the ball consistently; they cannot turn back a pass to defence when they see that they cannot go well. I want to actually find out - let all brains get together and let us touch the button on what were missing out there. If we touch the button then we can have our players doing what we are suppose to do."

Tomorrow, weíll have part two of that interview when Finnegan talks about his favourite players on the national team and how they would compare to the starts of his era.

Channel 7