Less then 24 hours after finishing last in the Gold Cup, Belize’s National Football Selection returned home today with a good many hard lessons learned and a fair amount of division about the way forward under American coach Ian Mork.
7news was at the airport and we got many perspectives on what went wrong and what worked for us at the Gold Cup. Jules Vasquez reports:…
Jules Vasquez reporting
The team returned today not to a motorcade or a hero’s welcome but a warm and grateful welcome, autographs were still being sought and there were plenty hugs and heartfelt handshakes to go around.
There was also enough blame to go around for yesterday’s epic loss - much of it directed at Coach Ian Mork.
Travis 'Burger' Lennan - Frustrated With Coaching Decisions
"I think the coach held me down too much - he held a lot of us down, the seniors were put on the bench and I think we could helped them in those situations but he had his own reasons why he did that."
"Were those reasons explained to you?"
Travis 'Burger' Lennan
"Well he didn't really explain anything to us because he barely wanted to talk to us and he just did what he had to do and we just had to go with what the man wanted."
Harrison "Cafu" Roches - Frustrated With Coaching Decisions
"I don't really feel contented with the coaching staff because I believe it was a big abstract that they did on my part. I don't knnow what kind of personal thing he had with me, to not even include 'Criminal' and he took that part with me and not get a chance to play just because he was around me - I don't know what kind of personal thing that was; that's the part I feel frustrated with."
Lennox 'Criminal' Castillo - Frustrated With Coaching Decisions
"Well I will say that the coach handled me really rough because first of all in the locker room the man came to tell me that if I don't stop hanging with 'Cafu' he won't make me play any games. Indeed I can't stop hang with him - he's my family so I have to hang with, he's the only one I talked to and he was my roomate. So on my behalf he treated me real cold because everybody was looking out to see me play and I'm sure I would have done something to help the team."
"Were you all benched in the last game because you were late for the first practice in Salt Lake?"
Lennox 'Criminal' Castillo
"That was a part of it but you know we were late for the work out but we still got there in time and we took our own money and paid and we got there on time."
Everal Trapp - Too Tired To Start Final Game
"Well I feel that the coaches decisions are his decisions, I can't go against his decision because at the end of the day he's the head coach and if he doesn't put the guys to play then I don't know why."
Dalton Eiley - Says Team not Physically Or Mentally Ready For Last Game
"He's a good coach - he maybe made a few errors in pulling some line-ups out there but it's not because he didn't believe in the players that were out there because he has belief in each player that can go out there and do well - it's just to go out there and prove it to him."
Woodrow West - Says Team Lost Focus On Field
"He's a good coach and I guess he just needed more time with the team and to let us do the system and if he had more time with the team it would have been much better."
Travis 'Burger' Lennan
"Like when Sherrier was here it was good because the players respected Sherrier and I think we need a coach that they respect because I don't think that they respect Ian, from my point - that's the way I seet. The man is a very good coach but the players he coached them from young and I don't think they have too much respect for him because some of them want to talk back to the man."
Shane Orio - Says Lack Of Experience Was A Factor
"I'm being realistic - the coach cannot please everyone because all of us will have our different eleven."
Elroy Smith - 'It’s A Learning Process'
"I dont really want to blame the coach because from the moment you're on the National Team it is because you have the skills to be in it and the talent to be here so it doesn't matter who they put to play - they are supposed to go there and put in the work. Now if you're not performing on the field then something is wrong with you - you can't blame the coaching staff for the line up that they set up, he is confident with each and every player that he puts out there. Yes, the players that were put out there, to me, they didn't perform the way they should have but they just had a bad game - you can't really blame the coaching staff for that because if the coach puts me on the team it is because he has confidence in me. It is up to me to tell him if I'm ready or not ready and I think that's what happened - some players didn't talk because they didn't want to play."
Marlon Kuylen - Says Coaching Up For Review By Executive
"If you notice yesterday - the first team was not in because when the coach looks at the bench and ask 'who can go?' - a lot of them just couldn't make it because they were so tired, mentally, physically - they were just fatigued."
"If you're not ready you should speak up - I think that's one of the thing that costs us, we weren't physically prepared for that game, the last game."
"I didn't start because I was tired but I told him that I could have gone in in a change and give 45 for the team so they started fresh legs in the game because it is our first time experiencing to be travelling up and down like that and barely have rest. We eat good and sleep good but in a way you still feel fatigued."
"We played three hard games, we played two hard games before that you know and I think those guys used their experience on us and the coach put on a team out there and he put us out there because he believes we could play and we wouldn't have been out there to begin with if we couldn't play. It's just to be focused and have confidence in themselves, I don't think the confidence we had in the second game playing against Cuba. We went out there riled up, ready to play and said we were going to give Cuba four and unfortunately it didn't happen. Like the Cuban coach said that their team wasn't better than us - they just had the experience and that's what they used to beat us."
Michael Salazar - Says Fatigue Was A Factor
"The last game I felt that it was fatigue - the players were tired and I felt that the coach tried to used some fresh legs and even though we thought the line up against Costa Rica was probably one of the best line up we had because players were tired. We had to change formation and the way the team was going to be set up and I felt that that played a huge role."
"Why were you so angry with your teamates out on the pitch yesterday? We saw you on the pitch shouting at them."
"Yes, because we had a plan and the guys were saying all the positive things that we were going to do on the field and at the end of the day we didn't pull it off as we said and it discouraged me a lot because we didn't pull off the job that the coach wanted us to do."
"What did you see as the essential breakdown?"
"The guys just needed to stay focus, it was three games and some of the games boiled down to one game to win and to qualify and these guys lost focus at the end and it costs us that three points."
"That is one thing that we did wrong because we went into the game like we were confident and that we were going to come out with a draw and a win and the next team studied us more."
"What did you see essentially as the breakdown in that last game and do you feel that it was a situation where the players weren't playing up to what they should have or was it poor coaching decisions?"
Ian Gaynair - "Both Players And Coach did Not Do their Part"
"Both - both of them, both players and coach didn't do their part."
"Do we need to change the coach?"
"Perhaps - he did a good job, when I talked to the players, of course anbody you bring in..he did what he could have with what he had especially yesterday. Because some of these guys that went in just weren't ready. Jules we realize that the travelling, the closeness of the games - the level of play and all we had to do in those matches, the food, the altitude (some of the guys had nose bleeds) - all that played a factor against us. We're not used to this, it's a whole other level that we're at right now and unfortunately as much as we prepared we weren't prepared enough for this tournament."
"I think at the end the bulk of what happened at the Gold Cup went totally to inexperience at that level. When you only have two players playing internationally, when you only have two players knowing what it is to play three games in one week - it's very difficult to go and compete with professionals so we need to better that aspect, we need to better our training and our federation needs to get better practice matches."
Khalil Velasquez - Played final game
"We need more international games, international warm up - we need a lot of that right now because we can't just pick up a team and think you're going out there and perform against a big team that is always playing internationally - we will look bad. So we need more international games.
Lennox 'Criminal' Castillo
"We need to play more international matches because no match that we play will ever level to the match we played out there because those guys are on a higher level than us and we are below them and when they watch us they laugh at us but we went to do our best."
But after the finger pointing subsides, the Federation will have to figure out how to turn the bittersweet Gold Cup experience into a building block.
"It's a learning process for the players - for all of us because it took us a while to qualify from the Nation's Cup stage to go to Gold Cup. So it's the same thing that will happen - it will take us a while to qualify on this level here. It's just a learning process not knowing our opponents, the only opponents we knew was Costa Rica and we gave them a good game because we had played them in the Nation's Cup and the next two teams we didn't know anything about them, so it's just something we have to learn."
Travis 'Burger' Lennan
"The next tournament if we qualify again I think we'll do far way better if we do the same thing and we get a good coach to work with us and if they hold this team together I think they could have a good National Team because the players already have the experience and know what it is to go through it."
"I don't think we should give up on something good that we have that we just started because this is a learning experience for us and this is our first time out there. Just like when we went to Nation's Cup - we used to get beating like that before we could have started to beat the teams. So I think the whole FFB need to realize that we got talent right now and they need to focus on us and let them get us what we need and allow us to have international friendly's."
Harrison "Cafu" Roches
"I just hope that we get a better coach and try forward with this and don't let this end right here because in the future we can be successful."
"It will be a touch job because it's not a professional league and this country cannot sustain a professional team. The teams we went up against - these guys - that's all they do is play football. We have some plans and ideas and how feasible is it? It's going to be tough but we'll do our best."
And so for now it’s back to reality, which today came in the form of this Baiza bus, after being shuttled around in first class transport and having their bags packed for them - today it was do it yourself on a school bus. Still they are grateful for the love and the experience.
"Being in Connecticut yesterday, at least I saw close to 500 Belizeans turned out - the Garifuna Drums beating and stuff like that. We could have felt the love in Connecticut and hopefully all the negative things - we could turn that into positive things and move on and concentrate on the next Nation's Cup that will be held in two years time and hopefully we move on again to the Gold Cup."
Of note is that Defender Tyrone Pandy did not return with the team – because he has been scouted for a professional football tryout in Minnesota.
Dion McCauley also did not return because he is visiting with relatives in the states.
Today, Sports Minister Herman Longsworth, sent out a statement saying quote,
“despite their outcome, we are very proud of them and welcome them back to Belize as Heroes…”