Posted: Tuesday, October 8, 2019. 3:39 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: No points after two games. Sanctioned for failing to appear in our first match. A minus-four goal differential. In danger of relegation to the lowest tier. Finishing at home to the team we forfeited to at the start of the campaign, then away to the team that beat us at home with a goal half-a-minute before end of play.
As the Football Federation itself says in advertising Thursday’s contest with St. Kitts and Nevis, the Jaguars are down. But they are not out, at least not yet.
In fact, improbable as it may seem, we still have a shot at qualifying for League A of the CONCACAF Nations League and to the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2021. After missing our chance against Guyana earlier this year, we can finish top of the group, and qualify directly or second and go through the two-stage qualifying process to select the final four teams next year.
All it will take is some variation of the following:
Step 1: Win all of our remaining games. Needless to say, Coach Vincenzo Annese cannot tolerate any slip-ups from here on out. Belize needs the maximum twelve points, or at the outset at least nine to finish in the top two. Anything else and it’s over.
Step 2: This weekend, root for French Guiana. Grenada won its first two games; French Guiana “won” one and drew the other – away to St. Kitts and Nevis. Any combination of results that is not two wins for Grenada keeps us in it. And worst case scenario, we tie them and it comes down to goal differential. Ideally, they split the series, leaving Grenada on nine points and French Guiana on seven. Belize would have six and be right in the middle of the chase. Or even better, the French Guianese sweep and keep Grenada at six points while we improve our goal differential.
Step 3: In November, root for St. Kitts and Nevis. We can hardly expect them to do any favors for us after we sweep them this weekend, but hopefully they will want to end the campaign on a high note. So draws or even wins against French Guiana and Grenada, and the Jaguars come through, and it is ours for the taking.
So, who’s on the team sheet, and who will be the impact players for the Jaguars?
Tony Rocha, midfielder. His energy and presence against Grenada blunted most of the Spice Boyz’s attacks in the first half and we’ll need more of the same against the Kittitians.
Nahjib Guerra, midfield/forward. Pacy runs often went nowhere, so he will need to link up with the midfield group to ensure he gets the outlets.
Krisean Lopez, forward. A second half substitute, he came on too late to make an impact, but here’s hoping he is selected in the lineup to change that.
Elroy Smith, defense. We sorely missed him as the rock of our defensive line against Grenada, with Ian Gaynair, Norman Anderson and Dalton Eiley allowing too much movement and bullying from the Eastern Caribbean islanders. He is listed in the call-up sheet this time so expect him to make his presence felt.
And if you’re wondering where’s Deon McCauley and Woodrow West on the list, well, they’re fairly obvious. Deon has settled into more of a midfield presence, though he is still Johnny-on-the-spot for goals as we saw with that peach of a Norman Anderson cross. West, as team captain, was hardly at fault for the goals scored, so more of the same from him, please.
The FFB will hold a press briefing at 2 pm Wednesday afternoon at its Belmopan headquarters. Game kick-off time is 8 p.m. Thursday night.
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