By WIlliam Ysaguirre
The Belmopan Bandits have qualified to represent Belize in the Champions’ League of the Confederation of Central American Football Associations (CONCACAF), having won both the opening and closing season championships, upsetting the top-seeded Police United Football Club: 4-0 on aggregate score.
The Football championship finals organized by the Premier League of Belize, was played at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium in Belmopan on Saturday night, May 17.
Playoff MVP Jerome “Jaro” James and Elroy Kuylen led the Bandits’ offensive supported by Denmark Casey and Norman Anderson on the wings and Brandon Peyrefitte and Erick Rodriguez at midfield.
The Police defenders, Trevor “Burger” Lennon, Kishane Pech, Chris Gilharry and Byron Usher tried to contain the Bandits. Bandit attacks on goal won three corner kicks and a free kick, forcing regular season MVP, Keith Allen to come with several saves for the police.
The Police were down 3-0 from the first game and needed to come up with four goals, but Bandit defenders Dalton Eiley, Ian Gaynair, Tyrone Pandy and Shane Armstrong shut down the best efforts of Danny Jimenez, Clifton West, Harrison “Kafu” Roches and Lennox “Criminal” Castillo, and their wingers, Devon and Andres Makin.
Best Coach awardee Hilberto Muschamp introduced Luis Torres, Amin “Tacos” August and Jeremy Bermudez to refresh the Police offensive in the second half, but the Bandits’ technical director, Leroy Sherrier Lewis also refreshed his lineup, introducing David Trapp to relieve Armstrong.
Only 12 minutes of regulation remained when Elroy Kuylen recovered a rebound on the edge of the 30-yard box and blasted a shot back in. Allen dove and got a glove on the ball, but could not stop it from rolling into the net for the Bandit’s 1-0 victory.
Bandits’ David Mikey Madrid and Ernest Wiltshire relieved Kuylen and Rodriguez in the final minutes of the game, allowing the police no goals.
The president of the Football Federation of Belize, Ruperto Vicente presented the championship and subchampions’ trophies to Bandit franchise owner, Minister John Saldivar and to the Police manager Alford Grinage. He also presented individual medals to the players, and individual awards for the regular season: Keith Allen winning both Best goalkeeper and the Most Valuable Player awards; to Chris Gilharry – Best Defense, Denmark Casey – Best Midfielder, Tony Gonzalez – Best Forward and Most Goals, Hilberto Muschamp – Best Coach, and Alford Grinage – Best Manager.