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Trinidad football friendly moved to Belmopan

The friendly football match between Belize’s National Men’s Team and the “Soca Warriors” of Trinidad & Tobago, originally scheduled for the MCC grounds at 4:00 Saturday afternoon, March 23, has been moved to the FIFA Goal Project Stadium beside the Football Federation of Belize Institute in Belmopan, with a new time of 8:00 Saturday night.
The first 15 members of the 27-member Trinidad delegation began arriving on Tuesday, March 19, and the FFB put them up at the Princess Hotel and Casino just across the road from the MCC, so named for the renowned Marylebone Cricket Club.
But when the visitors’ coach and players actually got a look at the condition of the MCC pitch, they objected to the idea of playing there, and informed the FFB that they would not be playing any friendly match at the MCC.
The FFB executive committee held an emergency meeting Wednesday night, and decided the game should be played at the FFB stadium on Saturday immediately after the Bandfest. They also advised the Love FM Bandfest organizers that they must be out of the stadium by 6:30pm.
The FIFA Goal Stadium, in Belmopan, is Belize’s only facility that meets FIFA’s international standards. However, the FFB Executive had agreed with Love FM’s management, months in advance, to rent out the stadium for the annual Bandfest.
This arrangement was reached before there was any possibility of the friendly match, FFB President Ruperto Vicente said.
Vicente had previously vehemently criticized the use of the MCC for the Digicel 10th anniversary concert last December, but he agreed to host Bandfest on the FFB turf, on condition that no wheeled vehicle would be rolling on the field. Nor would any stage be erected on the field.
In the past when Bandfest has been held at the People’s Stadium, Norman Broaster or Santiago Ricalde stadiums, the Love crew has had to erect a stage from which the judges and other invited dignitaries might view the bands’ performance.
At the FIFA stadium this won’t be necessary since the players’ pavilion has a VIP lounge from which judges and guests may view the bands in air-conditioned comfort, and the third floor of the building is designed to accommodate the media covering the event.
Belize’s football “Jaguars” have welcomed the “Soca Warriors” visit as they prepare for the upcoming Gold Cup tournament in the USA this summer, albeit without coach Roy Sherrier Lewis, under whose guidance Belize had qualified for the first time to the Gold Cup.
Assistant Coach Charles Slusher is at the helm and proceeding with Sherrier-Lewis’ game plan, summoning the national selection to work-outs on Monday, March 18.
It would seem Belize will do better than muddle through, since the selection has been reinforced by several under-19 players who did not play in the Copa Centroamericana in January:
David Madrid and Denmark Casey Jr., of Belmopan Bandits, and Gilroy “Bredda” Thurton, who represented the Jewel well at the 10th Central American Games in San Jose, Costa Rica, earlier this month, winning 2-1 over Nicaragua and drawing 1-1 with El Salvador.
Also invited to the selection is last season’s top striker of the Premier League of Belize, Danny Jimenez, who could not go to Costa Rica, because he was in the Police Academy’s three-month boot camp, and his brother Richard “Cheety” Jimenez.
The Jimenez brothers should be a good fit with Trevor “Burger” Lennon, the author of Belize’s “golazo” first goal in our 2-1 victory over Nicaragua at Copa Centroamericana, since they have been playing together since they were teammates at Mopan Tech in 2004.
Certainly there has been no suggestion yet that the FFB might retain the services of Coach Jose Palmiro Salas, who had coached Belize to its first ever World Cup qualifier victory over St. Kitts-Nevis in 2008, in the run up to World Cup South Africa 2010.
That victory had launched Belize into a second-round match against Mexico, ranked 30th in the world, but a previous FFB executive had ditched Palmiro-Salas before Belize’s ‘home’ game with Mexico at the Rangers Stadium in Houston in June 2008.
The Bandfest has been held three times in Belize City, twice at the Peoples Stadium and once in Corozal once in San Ignacio, but never before in the nation’s capital.

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