Belize Verdes FC made history last night by defeating Panama’s San Francisco 2 to 1 in the 2015 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League. It was an exhilarating game that had fans on the edge of their seats. It wasn’t broadcast locally, but our reporter Emanuel Pech was there and has a review of last night’s game.
Reporter: After suffering a blow out defeat at Queretaro last week Belize’s Verdes FC was on edge to pull off the impossible and win twice against Panama’s San Francisco FC by a margin of 8 collective goals. But spirits waned at the 13th minute of the game when San Francisco’s Daniel Moran scored with a shot that went over the head of Verdes’ goalkeeper and into the net. It seemed all was lost for the Belize green
machine. But 19 minutes into the game Verdes found the equalizer with a brilliant header from star striker Deon McCauley that just edged to the right hand side, out of reach of San Francisco’s goalkeeper. Towards the end of the first half Verdes FC had an opportunity to turn the odds in their favor with a penalty shot . However the opportunity was lost when Deon McCauley fired a shot a bit too high. The ball hit the cross bar and bounced back outside, never crossing the white line. In the second half it was anybody’s game. Both teams battled it out on the pitch seeking that three point win. There were several attempts on goal on both sides of the pitch but only one found the end of the net. At minute 88 Deon McCauley turned the tables on the game when he scored the 2nd goal of the match making history in the country as Belize’s first win in the Champions League tournament. Meanwhile San Francisco FC goes back to Panama with a broken dream.
Gary Stempe, Coach San Francisco: But once they equalized after we won a lap, we did lose our style a little bit. We did lose our rhythm and Verdes were obviously very motivated with the draw at that moment and at anything they were looking to win the game. We knew that winning our next two games would have gone through. So it wasn’t really goals it was trying to win here and win at home and we weren’t, that’s why we tried to look for the victory at the one hole. The last 15-20 minutes we pushed everybody up, took some major risks and unfortunately sometimes when you do that you leave yourself open for the counter attack and that’s what happened.
Reporter: What is the hope for San Francisco right now? Is there still hope that you guys might somehow be able to qualify for the next round?
Walter Salazar, Coach Verdes FC: First off I’m very happy, I think the guys did a great job. I think they really committed themselves today tactically speaking. The beauty about football is that we just came from a very sad defeat for all of us. It was difficult to recover within 3-4 days, nevertheless I think the guys did it well. Today they stood their ground on the game pitch. Honestly I feel very proud. I think we are making history in this country. It has never been done, that a team from Belize gains four points in the Concacaf Champions League. That is a huge motivation to continue to work within Belize.
We spoke to Deon McCauley, the man that made it all happen tonight.
Deon McCauley, Forward, Verdes FC: Our team has always been together and we never gave up hope because we knew that we have a good team and we knew that we could have come out here and win tonight and we showed that. We dominated the whole game and I think that the team is deserving of winning today.
Reporter: This could have easily been a 3-1 victory. You failed to put the ball in the net for that penalty. What happened there?
Deon McCauley, Forward, Verdes FC: Well um, you know just a stroke of bad luck I think. The ball hit the crossbar and came out back. I already out placed the keeper and I expected the ball to go in the goal but that’s how it goes sometimes.
Deon McCauley, Forward, Verdes FC: Well we just have to take it one day at a time. We know that the coaches will go back to the drawing board you know we have a game on Sunday and we have to focus on that one game at a time. And when the game against Panama come I know that we will be ready as a team and we will go out there and do our best.
Verdes remains undefeated at home, drawing first against Queretaro and then winning against San Francisco. With one game left to play Belize is in second place in group C with 4 points. Queretaro leads with 7 points and San Francisco is now at the bottom with 3 point. The Verdes team now travels to Panama on October 22nd for the return match against San Francisco FC. As it is Belize would need to defeat San Francisco by 7 gaols in the upcoming match to have any chances of advancing to the next round. Reporting for Plus news Emanuel Pech.