It is that time of the year again, when the football hype starts picking up momentum as we near the second round of the 2018 Gold Cup Qualifiers which is to be played against the Dominican Republic in a two leg match. The first leg is to be played on Dominican soil on June 11th and then on Belizean soil on June 14th. Today at the FFB headquarters in Belmopan, the 20 players that will be representing Belize for this round of the qualifiers were introduced to the nation
“We have high expectations of our team but I will not venture to make any predictions as our president did the last time – but we do expect a good performance from this team. I have been updated by the couch, Mr. Nunez, on the progress of the team over the last couple months, since our encounter with Cayman and he is confident that we are putting the best possible team that we can.
(Translated) We are already on the final stages of preparation because we only have days left before the game. The tactical, physical and technical aspects are all good;. The players are at 100% and I am sure we will be triumphant,. We have to work hard first and then God helps with the rest. We have worked hard, we have worked very hard. We have been honest with the players and the players have put in their work, the committee has put in their work and that is the most important thing. We are all good and I am confident that we will move on to the next round.
There were no predictions this time around, but the federation says they are going into the football pitch in one week with an air of confidence. That’s all good and well, but when looking back at Belize’s first match up against the Grand Cayman Islands, a team ranked far lower than Belize, hopes sort of falter. Especially when considering that the Dominican Republic pulled off a 6-1 victory against the Grand Cayman in a friendly match earlier this year. But according to the coaches, that is not a concern for them and in fact , Belize has won all their friendly matches.
(Translated)“I repeat again that friendly matches are not good ways of determining the situation of a team. The system that we have used, we have made some changes in the game play and that is what we are doing, to see how players move on the pitch during game play.
“As coach said, we have analyzed the game- the head coach and I have analyzed the game and at the same time we have been practicing our strategy of how we will play away. It is different playing at home and playing away and playing a team like Dominica. From what we have seen on the tape. I don’t want to go in dept with it but what I can say is that we have been practicing a certain way and not just one way but with different options in the event that when the game starts and they come with a different strategy then we can counter and adjust. What we have done is that we have practiced all these situations with the team.
“In respect to whether Dominica gives Cayman six or any other team, that is not our concern. We have been practicing to beat them and to hold them ,defensive wise, as we need to do to get a goal.”
Assistant coach Charles Slusher also spoke about the strategy of the team going into the first leg of this second round.
“We are narrowing it down to almost having our first eleven and we might have two first eleven, one for the Belize game as well as one for the away game. You have to realize that when you are away, you don’t want to be thinking you have to be defensive first, but you have to be very cautious. The game might be tough so you need strong players, guys who can defend and not be too offensive. We cannot fool ourselves and want to go to anyone’s home and go out and attack. We have to be very cautious with our attacking. The first eleven is based on our strategy going into that game and the way the game develops. We are confident that best eleven from all the games that we have played. We now believe that we can now start taking the games to these teams. In the past, we would have just laid back and just defend and lay back to be slaughtered. Now we have changed that idea and getting the philosophy of the players that now we got to take it to these guys. We have to be confident enough that we can press them; we can attack.”
In preparation for the upcoming match with the Dominican Republic, Belize will be playing a team from Peten, Guatemala on Sunday June 7th at the FFB football stadium in Belmopan; admission is free.