Posted: Tuesday, March 16, 2021. 1:22 pm CST.
By Rubén Morales Iglesias: The Belize Men’s National Team (BMNT) final cut will be announced on Wednesday as the team prepares to leave on Sunday, March 21, to Haiti to play the first of two matches in the 2022 Qatar World Cup Qualifiers Games.
The BMNT has been training in a bubble at the FFB Field in Belmopan under the tutelage of head coach Dale Pelayo since the beginning of February in preparation for the WC qualifiers.
Belize’s first match will be against Haiti at the Stade Sylvio Cator in Port au Prince at 3:00 p.m. Belize time on Thursday, March 25, 2021.
Our second match is against the Turks and Caicos Islands at the Estadio Panamericano in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 30, 2021.
The second game is actually Belize’s home game but could not be played here because of the COVID-19 restrictions. The FFB said that Santo Domingo was the next best bet.
“We’re going to give it our best shot,” National Team Coach, Dale Pelayo said. “It’s difficult because we’ve not been playing football, but other countries are in the same situation.”
“Haiti and the Turks and Caicos are like that as well. They haven’t been playing competitive football,” Pelayo said. “But Haiti has many of their players in France so, those players have been active. Turks and Caicos are just like us, they have not been playing competitive football. Their government has not allowed them to play contact sports either. In fact, they’ll have to play their home game in the Dominican Republic as well.”
Belize is in Group E along with Haiti, Nicaragua, Saint Lucia, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Due to Covid-19, FIFA made changes to the usual qualifying format and instead of each team in a group playing all other rivals twice on a home and away schedule, each team will now play each rival only once, with FIFA determining which two games are to be played at home and which two away. Belize’s home games are against Turks and Caicos and St Lucia and away against Haiti and Nicaragua.
Belize’s third and fourth games will be in June against Nicaragua away and at home against St Lucia. The FFB hopes that game can be played here.
Pelayo initially called 30 players to camp but has been adding and dropping players until he announces the final cut on Wednesday. Altitude’s Jesse August was one of the local-based players who joined the team. Of the foreign-based players, Deshawn Nembhard (Charleston Battery FC, USA), Angelo Cappello (Sheffield United, England), Nana Mensah (Michigan Stars) are already in camp.
Deon McCaulay (Ginga Atlanta) said he would be able to join the national squad because of a US Green Card delay so he will be missing the first two matches in 2022 Qatar World Cup Qualifiers Games this month.
This month there will be twelve games where the home teams will have to play their games at a neutral stadium.
On Wednesday, March 24, Antigua and Barbuda are playing Montserrat in Willemstad, Curacao, while St. Kitts and Nevis are matching up against Puerto Rico in Santo Domingo.
On Thursday, March 25, Canada are facing Bermuda in Orlando, Florida, USA, Panama are taking on Barbados in Port au Prince, and Trinidad and Tobago face off with Guyana in Santo Domingo.
On Saturday, March 27, Aruba are battling Suriname in Bradenton Florida, British Virgin Islands host Guatemala in Willemstad, Anguilla travel to Miami for their home game against the Dominican Republic in Miami, while Turks and Caicos play Nicaragua in Santo Domingo.
Then, on Sunday, March 28, St Vincent and the Grenadines tangle with British Virgin Islands in Willemstad, Barbados take on Anguilla at the Felix Sanchez Stadium in the Dominican Republic, while Belize match up against Turks and Caicos at the Estadio Panamericano in Santo Domingo as well.
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