The Belize Jaguars will play against Puerto Rico Friday night at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium in Belmopan. The game is expected to be tough as it is close to a ‘do or die’ situation for both Belize and Puerto Rico if they have any chance of qualifying for the Gold Cup. Love News met the captains of both teams as they spoke about what fans of the sport can expect on Friday night.
Marlon Kuylen, Football Federation of Belize: ‘Ten of the teams that are participating right now are going to qualify for the gold cup. Belize is currently at 18th place but a number of the countries are in the top ten will be playing each other in the other two matches. So if they come out with some draws and we win our next two matches then we go accumulate nine points while some of the top teams right now might end up with eight points – so that will help us to qualify.”
Puerto Rico’s captain Andres Cabrero says the team is ready for the game.
Andres Cabrero, Puerto Rico Team Captain: “We prepare for the game the same way we prepare for any match, we try to do our best. We work on what the coaches want us to do. It changes from game to game depending on the weather it could change formation, could change players could change at the day it’s trying to play the best and see who is the better team.”
All eyes will be on new comer sixteen year old Angelo Capello and veteran Deon McCaulley from the Belize team.
Deon McCaulley, Footballer: “There’s always a little bit of pressure when it comes to these kinds of games, it’s a big international game of course. I mean everybody is focused, everybody is in camp right now. I think for the most part everybody is ready and everybody is ready to give their 100%.”
Angelo Capello, Footballer: “Some scouts came to watch me and offered me a six week trial at Sheffield United and then recently signed a new two year deal with the club and get called up for national team. For me it’s a privilege to come and represent my country and help get the win because we know we need to win and tomorrow if everybody comes out I’m sure they won’t be disappointed with all the players and we know what we need to do and we just need to get the support from the rest of the country and we will get the win.”
Deon McCaulley, Footballer: “Most of the players that we have have already been training before, have been playing before together. For the most part the players that we have are players that have played the first two games already. Angelo is new and he just came in so we are just building the chemistry with me and him but with the other guys we have the chemistry already because we’ve been playing together before. “
The only thing that is clear is that both Belize and Puerto Rico will fight to stay in the competition. Belize versus Costa Rica is slated from 8 to 10 pm in the Capital.
Belize Prepares For Puerto Rico
Right now, Belize’s National Football Team is preparing to play its third match in the CONCACAF Nations League Tournament.
That game is set for tomorrow and the Jaguars are going up against Puerto Rico.
On September 7th, Team Belize defeated the Bahamas at home, but on October 14th, they travelled to Montserrat, for the second match, and they lost 1-nil.
Like the other 35 CONCACAF countries, Team Belize wants to qualify for next year’s Gold Cup, but to do that, they have place in the top 10 in this tournament. Right now, Belize is at #18, and a lot of variables have to line up for the Jaguars to qualify for next year. But, tomorrow night, they need a blow-out victory against Puerto Rico.
This morning at the Marion Jones, the FFB, the National Team’s Coaching staff, and a few members of the team hosted a joint press conference with representatives of the Puerto Rican National Team. The media questioned the local football authorities about that game they lost last month, and about the Belize’s real prospects for qualifying to the Gold Cup. Here’s what they had to say:
Dale Pelayo - Assistant Head Coach, Team Belize
"We went to Montserrat, and we played a good game. We had our opportunity; we never scored. Unfortunately, Monserrat got a look the goal, 1 shot at goal, late in the second half, and they scored. They won the game, but that doesn’t that Belize is not doing things well. That doesn’t mean that Belize is not doing anything good. That doesn’t mean that the team is not good. Unfortunately, that’s what happens in football. Now, we have an opportunity back home tomorrow night to put one foot going forward to the Gold Cup. We need a win, and that’s what we’re going for. We’re positive."
Marlon Kuylen - Senior VP, FFB
"We need to win our next 2 matches, especially by good margins. The teams that are in the top 10, or for those who don’t know, 10 of the teams that are participating right now are going to qualify for the Gold Cup. Belize currently at 18th place, but a number of the countries that are in the top 10 will be playing each other in their other 2 matches. So, if they come up with some draws, and we win our next 2 matches, then we could accumulate 9 points, while some of the top teams right might only end of up with 8 points. So that would help us to qualify."
So, as you heard, tomorrow’s game is do or die for Belize, but they have to defeat Puerto Rico, which is equally hungry for a victory. They lost their first 2 games against St. Kitts and Nevis, and Martinique, and so, they need a win just as badly to have a chance at qualifying.
We got a chance to speak with leading players of both teams, and we asked them about the crunch time pressure that both clubs are experiencing, while they prepare for tomorrow’s game:
Deon McCaulay - Striker, Team Belize
"There’s always a little bit of pressure when it comes to these kinds of games. It’s a big international game of course. Everybody is focused. Everybody is in camp right now. I think for the most part, everybody is ready, and ready to give their 100%. There is always pressure, and you have to know to contain the pressure, and get ready for the game."
Andres Cabrero - Captain, Team Puerto Rico
"I come with the mentality that we have to win also. We haven’t won a game yet. We’ve been playing well, but we haven’t gotten the result. We continue to do the work. We continue to improve what we can. We try to do our best, and see what we can come out with."
Team Belize also has an infusion of new talent in the form of 16 year-old Angelo Cappello, a Belizean-born who’s family moved to the UK when he was 11. The up-and-coming footballer was discovered by scouts representing the British professional football team, Sheffield United Football Club. They saw him in action as part of a local football team and they offered him a 6-week stint at their training camp. After that session, he signed a 2-year deal with them, which clearly indicates the potential they see in this teenager.
The Jaguars drafted him for tomorrow’s game, where he will play striker along side, Belize’s leading goalscorer, Deon McCaulay. We got a chance to speak with both athletes about their developing dynamics as part of the country's offensive line:
Deon McCaulay - Striker, Team Belize
"Most of the players have already been training before - have been playing before together. For the most part, the players that we have are players that played the first 2 games already. Angelo is new. He just came in, so we’re just building the chemistry with him and me. But, with the other guys, we have the chemistry already because we’ve been playing together before. It’s always a work in progress. We work on it every day in training, and that’s what’s important."
Angelo Cappello - Striker, Team Belize
"When I first came, everybody was very welcoming, and helpful, especially on the field yesterday, when we played the friendly match. Especially with Deon speaking to me, telling me where he wants me to go, and me telling him where he would want to go, playing with each other is very helpful for me, especially as a young player. Coming in to the team, not really knowing - I mean I know them; I just don’t know how they play. So, for him to be speaking to me, and helping me, we move together, passing to each other, both of us ended up scoring a goal. So, good result overall, and hopefully tomorrow, we’ll do the same."
"We have a lot of quality players. It’s not just me and him. This is about 11 players, and like I tell the guys, anybody who scores, we still win the game. That’s what’s important. It doesn’t matter who scores, as long as we win"
"Getting called up for the National team for me is a privilege, to try and help obviously to get the win, because we need to win. Tomorrow, if everybody come out, I’m sure that they won’t be disappointed with all the players. We know what we need to do, and we just need the support from the rest of the country."
Kick-off for tomorrow’s match between Belize and Puerto Rico takes place at 8 p.m. at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium.