The Belmopan Bandits, bridemaids at many Belize Premier Football League finals in the past, won their first national championship by a 1-0 victory over the Police United in the second match of the Premier League of Belize Championship Finals.
The decisive gane was played at the FIFA Goal Project Field of the Football Federation of Belize just outside Belmopan on Sunday, December 30.
Danny Jimenez and Evan Mariano led the Police offensive, supported by the Makin brothers, Andres and Devon, on the wings and Orlando “Lichy” Jimenez and Amin “Tacos” August at midfield.
Albert Thurton anchored the Bandits defense, and with the help of Ian Gaynair, Erick Rodriguez and Floyd Jones they held off the police attacks while their MVP goalkeeper, Woodrow West handled all other challenges to shut out the Police the entire game.
Dennis Serano and David Madrid spearheaded the Bandits’ offensive, supported by Jacinto Bermudez and Jerome ”Jaro” James on the wings and Denmark Casey Jr and Lincoln Wiltshire midfield. They testing the Police defense anchored by Kishane Pech, with help from Shannon Flowers, Trevor “Burger” Lennon and Jermaine Jones.
Police goalkeeper Charlie Slusher made a magnificent save, tipping the ball over the crossbar when careless marking by Police defenders allowed David Madrid to get off a shot from the left flank.
Dennis Serano also tested Slusher’s reflexes with a shot that Kishane Pech stopped and Jermaine Jones booted clear.
The Bandits’ defenders allowed bi quarter to either Jimenez or Mariano and central referee Amir Castillas was obliged to admonish Bandits players Denmark Casey and Ian Gaynair with yellow card cautions.
The Police defenders were caught napping when Dennis Serano passed to Jacinto Bermudez on the left. Bermudez who drove up the sideline to the edge of the 30-yard box, where he unleashed a left foot shot just as Kishane Pech darted in to challenge.
Pech obscured Slusher’s view of the ball until it was too late, and his late dive could not stop the ball from nestling in the far corner of the net.
Bandit defenders held off the furious Police counterattack to lock up their 1-0 lead at intermission.
A torrential rain came down in the second half, and Bandits’ technical director Edmund Pandy introduced Shane Armstrong and Gilbert “Hoof” Swazo to relieve Lincoln Wiltshire and Jacinto Bermudez.
Police technical director Andres Makin Sr. also refreshed his offensive with Lennox “Criminal” Castillo and Jeremy Bermudez relieving Devon Makin and Amin August.
Lennox Castillo made Woodrow West look good when he blasted off a cannonball shot that West tipped over the crossbar. Bandits’ Jerome James had been overlapping from forward to defense and was not happy when David Trapp replaced him in the last minutes of the game.
The Police almost took the game into injury time when they set table for Trevor Lennon to equalize. There was an opportunity for this when goal-keeper Woodrow West made a committed which took him away from his goal, leaving a wide-open space..
But Lennon’s shot drained harmlessly outside the goal uprights and the Bandits were able to lock up shop and preserve their precious one-nil 1-0 win.
FFB president Ruperto Vicente presented the championship trophy to team manager Minister John Saldivar and individual medals to the Bandits, and the sub-champions’ trophy to the police manager Elodio Aragon Jr. He also presented individual awards to the Most Valuable player of the regular season Woodrow West who also won Best Goalkeeper’s award.. Placencia Assassins’ Dalton Eiley won a medal for Best Defense, Daniel Jimenez won for Most Goals scored, Evan Mariano for Best Forward, David Trapp – Best for midfielder, Verdes’ Eduardo Gongora for Best Rookie (U-17) and Edmund Pandy Sr. won Best Coach award. Jacinto Bermudez won the Most Valuable Player of the playoffs.