Bandits win Belikin Cup football championship

By William Ysaguirre freelance Reporter

The Belmopan Bandits repeat as champion of the opening season Belikin Cup Football Tournament, blowing away sub-champions FC Belize: 5-1 in the second game of the finals at the FIFA Goal Project Stadium in Belmopan on Saturday night, February 8.
Belize’s top goal-scorer of the qualifiers to World Cup Brazil 2014, Deon McCaulay had a blast. He scored a hat trick, plus one, while Denmark Casey of Belize’s National under-19 Selection scored the Bandits’ second goal.
McCaulay and Dennis Serano led the Bandit offensive supported by David Trapp and David “Mikey” Madrid on the wings and Denmark Casey and Eric Rodriguez at midfield.
Serano forced FC Belize goalkeeper ,Glenford Chimilio to come up with a flying save and concede a corner kick on his first attack. Chimilio continued to keep the visitors scoreless until eight minutes before intermission.
Chimilio came out of his goal to meet a charge from David Trapp on the left flank, meeting Trapp at the corner of the goal area. Trapp tripped and fell and it seemed it might have been his hand that sent the errant ball back to Deon McCaulay.
But FC Belize got no call from the referee. McCaulay recovered the rebound, with Chimilio still on the ground, and drilled a cannonball shot into the far corner of the net.
FC Belize had vanquished the Bandits 3-2 at their last visit to the capital. Stung by this insult, their immediate counterattack saw Mark “Kelo” Leslie finish a cross to center to equalize the score two minutes later.
FC Belize also won a free kick from a Bandit foul in the final minutes of the first half, and Jarret Davis’ angry protest to the referee only earned him a yellow card as reprimand,. He was fortunate to escape a red card ejection. In that final minute of the half, Denmark Casey caught up to a pass from Tyrone Pandy and his beautiful finish gave the Bandits a 2-1 lead going into intermission.
FC Belize defender Mark Grant’s rear tackle on Madrid won him an early ticket to the showers, via a red card ejection.
FC Belize technical director Jorge Nuñez introduced Kevin Lino for Jorge Aleman, but now reduced to 10 men, FC Belize blundered into conceding a penalty on a hand ball violation. McCaulay converted to make it 3-1.
The Bandits were now firmly in command. Madrid’s speedy attack on the right flank drew Chimilio out of his goal once more. Chimilio was completely whipsawed when Madrid shunted the ball across the goal to McCaulay darting in on the left. McCauley booted the ball into the empty net: 4-1.
McCaulay’s next solo foray again caught the defense flat-footed, and George Estrada’s late tackle could not prevent McCaulay from nimbly chipping the ball with his left foot, over an advancing Chimilio into the empty net for a 5-1 final score.
Devaugn Zuniga relieved Estrada and Dimitri Fabro replaced Leslie as FC Belize fought desperately to equalize.
Bandits technical director Leroy Sherrier Lewis also refreshed his midfield with Deris “Colombia” Benavides and young Sanja Casey replacing Trapp and Denmark Casey; while Elroy Kuylen took over from Madrid to keep the Bandits on the offensive until the final whistle.
The President of the Football Federation of Belize, Ruperto Vicente, was on hand to present the championship trophy and a $30,000 cheque as first prize to Bandits’ owner John Saldivar. The sub-champion’s trophy and a $15,000 cheque for second prize went to FC Belize.
Vicente also presented individual awards for the regular season: Best Forward and Most Goals Scored went to Clifton West of Police United while his teammate Vallan Symns won Best Defender.
Verdes’ Benito Moreira and Orlando Jimenez won Best Goalkeeper and Best Midfielder respectively. Franz Vernon of the Paradise Freedom Fighters won the Most Valuable Player award.
Verdes’ Pablo Cacho won Best Coach, while the award for Best manger was a tie between Lionel Cutkelvin and Verdes’ Eric Vasquez. The Most Valuable Player award for the playoffs went to Dion McCaulay, while the Best Fan award went to ardent Police supporter, Sgt. Gamboa.

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