After Disappointing Copa Centroamericana, Jaguars return to Dissect Performance
Belizean football fans across the country were not too happy with the performance of the national football team over the past ten days at the Copa Centro Americana Games. The regional qualifier for the UNCAF Gold Cup was hosted at the Romero Fernandez Stadium in Panama and, unfortunately, the Belize Jaguars were unable to secure a top spot and advance. The team returned on an Avianca flight this morning. News Five’s Duane Moody was on hand for their arrival and found out why the so-called best team to date failed on the regional stage.
Duane Moody, Reporting
Just before ten a.m. today, the Belize Jaguars returned to Belize from Panama after ten days and five matches in the Copa Centro Americana Games, a qualifying round for the UNCAF Gold Cup. Unlike 2013, however, the team is not advancing in the football tournament; Belize drew with Panama on the first game and lost to Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras, in that order, scoring only one goal from the outing against the host country.
Richard Orlowski, Coach, National Football Team
“Team Belize after first game, everybody had good expectation because we tie with a good team like Panama. But another game it was like a little bad luck and the second day game…like the game with Nicaragua we played well; we lost like two goals last ten minutes to the end of the game. And the last game with Honduras we played much, much better. So we did have a point, but we could see how we play and everybody say we play well.”
But what was the strategy going into the games? Back in 2013, team Belize was revered for its defensive techniques in the regional games. The management, as well as the athletes, says that the composition of the team was the best to date. But there were shortfalls, including lack of resources and the athletes having professional careers outside of sport.
Marlon Kuylen, Acting President, F.F.B.
“In reality, we have a group of teachers, police men, soldiers, going up against professionals that have structured programs. We held our own. My biggest, two things that stick to my mind is that the schedule, the format; we played three games in five days, five matches in ten days. This is the first time we’ve ever done that. And number two, our coaching staff erred in not rotating the players enough because we had very good players on the bench. And so if you noticed, almost all the matches, the same starting eleven and in the end, they just ran out of legs.”
Star players Woodrow West and Ian Gaynair, are no strangers to international matches and have been members of the national team for some time now. They both chimed in on the performance of the team, saying that there was a lack of professionalism in the coaching staff.
Woodrow West, Goalkeeper, Belize Jaguars
“I think the coaches made some decisions that hurt the team basically because due to Salvador and Costa Rica game, we had to lose anyway, so the rotation of players was important between those games and we could have saved our fresh players for Nicaragua game which we knew was going to be a much easier game to win and could have put us in the Gold Cup and I think there is where we made the error. With that said, it’s another disappointment. Personally speaking, I think the coaching staff didn’t allow the coach himself to make his own decisions and to run the team how he should have. Everybody was saying this and doing this; even some players were making changes on the roster so those were the mistakes and the negative parts that happened.”
Ian Gaynair, Midfielder, Belize Jaguars
“They said we want qualify, all ah we want qualify but we never had no strategic plan as to how we will qualify so dah right there we fall short. All we said was that we will try win a game and draw a game and qualify, but we never had a plan as to how we will do it. like to rest some players, save them fi wah game. So I think, the man need fi get people weh could help because we watch all th rest of clubs and they have a good coaching staff weh everybody have dehn job and everybody obligated to do their job and ker it out good. But with we, we noh professional.”
So what changes must be in place for the team to improve going forward?
“The boys needed more friendly, high level games so that they get more experience so that when they go for tournaments like these they gonna be ready to not only play well, but get the point and get some good location.”
“Do you think that the team was prepared enough to take on the challenge?”
“We got like five weeks to prepare. What I say right now and it was like a week was semi-finals, finals. So it was like two things we prepared things for the Copa and we have to know that international level is different from Belizean level. So like I said players needed more friendly games and if I had them like two three months, would have been the best.”
In the days ahead, a postmortem of the tournament, including reports from the players and the coaching staff, will take place. Duane Moody for News Five.