Posted: Thursday, August 4, 2022. 1:17 pm CST.
Photo Credit: Verdes FC
By Rubén Morales Iglesias: On Wednesday night at the Cuscatlán Stadium in San Salvador, Verdes became the first Belizean club to win a series and advance to a second round in the Scotiabank Concacaf League. They advanced by virtue of the away goals rule, the 2-2 draw at the Cuscatlán, and the 0-0 at the FFB Stadium in Belmopan the previous week.
That made them the third Belizean club to advance to another round in any Concacaf championship.
Prior to Verdes’ achievement and prior to the Scotiabank Concacaf League, Belize City’s Coke Milpros and Orange Walk’s Juventus advanced to the second round of Concacaf championships.
As corroborated by Belizean National Team goalkeeper Charlie Slusher, in April 1989 in the Concacaf Champions Cup, Coke Milpros, with Marvin Ottley in goal, eliminated Nicaragua’s Diriangen General winning 3-0 at the MCC Grounds in Belize and levelling 1-1 in Nicaragua. Milpros went on to play Plaza Amador of Panama in the next round.
Then, in 1997, while we had General Elections in Belize, Orange Walk’s Pride and Joy Juventus, with Norman ‘Tilliman’ Nunez as their leader and Slusher in goal, massacred Real España 4-1 in San Pedro Sula in the Concacaf Champions Cup after losing 1-0 at the People’s Stadium in Orange Walk. Juventus went on to face Comunicaciones of Guatemala in the next round.
The big difference is that Milpros and Juventus only had a foreigner or two while Verdes, going by today’s international standards (just look at Liverpool, Real Madrid, etc., … and Central American clubs are no exception), are plagued by foreign players.
Other than that, Belizean teams, including Verdes who along with Milpros were Belize’s first teams to represent Belize internationally under the Concacaf banner in 1987, have pulled a number of wins and draws against international rivals but had not made it into a second round.
Verdes were close in 2002 when they drew 0-0 with Mexican club Queretaro 0-0 and beat Panamanian side San Francisco 2-1 here but were blown away in their away matches.
Verdes, then Real Verdes, actually started their international journey on a good footing in the Concacaf Champions Cup in 1986 beating Bermuda’s Pembroke Hamilton 2-1 at home in Round 2 but fell away 0-3 losing 2-4 on aggregate. The Bermudian team reached the semifinals that year.
The following year Real Verdes were beaten 2-0 and 6-1 by Real España in their second international participation and Coke Milpros, competing for the first time, lost 8-1 to Olimpia in Tegucigalpa but pulled a 1-1 draw here in Belize.
Now, Verdes will attempt to get past Salvadoran champions Alianza later this month in an attempt to become the first Belizean team to win two series.
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