Belize’s national football team, the Jaguars, gave a commendable performance at the Estadio Olimpico Felix Sanchez in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, taking a 2-1 away win. Both goals were scored by goal machine Deon McCauley, who justified public faith in him by jumpstarting a sluggish side that had just sneaked into round two of World Cup qualifying for Russia in 2018. But for the favorites it is only job half done, as on Sunday at the FFB Stadium they must ensure that Los Quisqueyanos do not overturn their one-goal lead. But before they got back into training they basked in the adulation of the public at the Philip Goldson International Airport in Ladyville this afternoon. Defender Ian Gaynair says they understand and appreciate the magnitude of the task ahead.
“Well, we have been in this kind of position before where we would go to another country to play, regardless of how many people go to the game. They never did not have a good turn out yesterday and we went with the mindset that we are going on the road to play an elimination game. We knew that away goals count, so our main objective was to score a goal or two to come back home and defend it in our back yard.
“Now that you have the win, are our feeling more comfortable with the journey to the end goal?”
“Not really comfortable because when you get comfortable, you tend to break down and give up the whole series. We have more confidence now but we are still cautious about the next 90 minutes to come. “
Goal-scorer McCauley paid tribute to his teammates, while doing a little “bigging up” of himself and his contributions.
“It ‘s very exciting. A nice win especially away. Wining away is always big and getting the away goals is even bigger because with that, we can play a not so comfortable game but we can breathe a little bit. that is good and I think the team really came out and played their hearts out. We played 90 minutes of football and we gave it our all; defensively and offensively. We still have thinghs we need to work on. We will look over the game and we will work on that.”
“My final question to you, the last time I spoke to you, you were just arriving into the country, getting ready to train with the guys and getting ready to reinsert yourself in the national team. How has that reinsertion been and what do you expect for the future games that are coming up?”
“That reinsertion has been very good. I am very happy to be back with the team. Everybody gave me all the love to be back because they knew that once Deon is back, there will be goals. Thank God that I proved myself once again and I am looking forward to the game on Sunday and looking forward to the same results. Once we come out as a team and work hard, anything is possible.
In response to critics suggesting that the team didn’t look sharp, assistant coach Charlie Slusher said that in the circumstances, a gritty win was better than a stylish loss. He said the game plan involved a practiced counterattack that paid dividends, but things will be tidied up on Sunday.
“We can expect a better game—football-wise, technical-wise and we are at home so we really want to…although we got a pretty win, it doesn’t matter. We still want to make the Belizean people know that this team can play football. So we want to win this game Sunday by playing football. I know, like I said, the team did not play its best game,. It was a bit sloppy most of the time, even when it came to ball position. But the field was in poor conditions. It was a small field, the FFB field is large and wide and more suitable for our game. at the same time,we cannot be foolish and just want to impress our country and think about scoring a lot of goals and forget that we cannot allow them to score one or two, so we still have to remain very cautious in the way we will attack these guys. They are the ones that needs to come and score two or three goals to win. So we still are contemplating our game plan but we are not going to change much from what we did abroad because we have an advantage and we want to keep that advantage going into this game.”