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Feb 19, 2021

Belize Gets Ready for World Cup Qualifiers

The Belize National ‘A’ Team is getting ready to embark on the qualifiers for the World Cup in Qatar 2022.  For almost a year, the football players haven’t been able to play the sport and so they were left to work out on their own. So, on Monday, thirty-four athletes from across the country will be heading to the F.F.B headquarters to try to secure a spot on the national team. The footballers selected were shortlisted from among forty-nine players, a mixed of local talent and international players. These players made the first cut by keeping up with their individual fitness. News Five’s Andrea Polanco found out more.


Marlon Kuylen, Executive Member, F.F.B.

“We gave the players some weekly drills for their individual training to get in tip top shape for whenever the team was called to camp. In January, the coaches did a physical training test for all those players and the ones who passed the test are the ones who were chosen to be on this list that we are calling to camp on Monday.”


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Once these players arrive at the F.F.B headquarters, they will go into what is called a bubble. Because football is a contact sport, they will have to follow strict COVID-19 guidelines. They can be fined if players get sick and the match is called off.


Dale Pelayo Sr.

Dale Pelayo Sr., Head Coach, Belize National Team

“When the players come in they are going into a bubble that was approved by the Minister of Sports. So, whenever the players come in on the twenty-second we will be testing every single player along with the coaching staff will be tested and placed in the bubble and no one will be allowed to come out nor come in to that bubble, except when the international players come in and they will be tested and given a number of days to be isolated before they can join the bubble.”


Marlon Kuylen

Marlon Kuylen

“It will be very strict because we cannot afford for any of the players to get infected or even worse can’t be able to participate in these matches because the fines that are coming down from FIFA are exorbitant. So, we want to represent and form the best team and qualify to the next round.”


And once they are all in, the thirty-four players will be in camp for one month. They will train six days a week and the football experts say that these players will have to work hard to earn a spot among the final twenty-three for the national team.


Dale Pelayo Sr.

“Because of us not being able to play football for almost a year, the focus of the national team would be simply tactical and technical preparation to get our players back on a rhythm in actually playing on a pitch.”


Marlon Kuylen

“I must add that for the young players out there who think this is an entitlement to come in and make the team – no way. You have to earn your position on that team – so for the first two weeks we will be training and monitoring the players and the list will then be cut down to twenty-three or twenty-four players, so eleven or twelve players will be going home after the first two weeks.”


The national ‘A’ team of twenty-three players will head to Haiti next month for the first match in this qualifying round to be held on March twenty-fifth. Because of our COVID-19 regulations, Belize must play its home match in the Dominican Republic at the end of March, but the F.F.B says the players are still enthusiastic.


Marlon Kuylen

“Because the S.I. doesn’t allow us to play yet, we have to play our home match in the Dominican Republic against the Turks and Caicos on March thirtieth.”


Andrea Polanco

“How tough is this – it seems pretty difficult from my point of view but how are the players processing this and how are you guys managing?”


Marlon Kuylen

“It is a logistical nightmare to say the least. But when it comes to the players, they have been waiting for to get on the pitch to play and especially at this level to represent the country, for work-out qualifying they are actually looking forward to it. So, logistics aside, we feel comfortable and we feel like the team will do well because of the passion and the drive that they have to get back on the pitch.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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