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Belize farther away from Concacaf Gold Cup now; calls for FFB personnel to resign intensify

Posted: Wednesday, November 22, 2023. 4:21 pm CST.

Belize Men’s National Team on October 13, 2023 before Bermuda game at FFB Stadium – Photo Credit: FFB

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: The relegation of the Belize Men’s National Team from the Concacaf League B to League C as a result of finishing in last place in Group C after losing 3-0 to St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) on Tuesday puts Belize farther away from the dream of qualifying to the Gold Cup again and at the same time intensifies the call for the coach and officials of the Football Federation of Belize to resign.

Belize were in the most competitive and even group in League B. Before the match on Tuesday all four countries had the possibility of qualifying to League A. If that couldn’t be achieved, Belize only had to draw with St Vincent and the Grenadines to avoid relegation. But BMNT were unable to do that.

Travelling shorthanded with only 17 players, the Belize Men’s National Team was never really a threat to the Caribbean side at St George’s, Grenada. From minute three, when SVG took the lead Belize struggled to even the score. Down the stretch, when it was still 1-nil, SVG were dominant and seemed more poised to score. And score they did in the final minutes. Twice. 3-0.

St Vincent and the Grenadines, who went into the game in last place, qualified, and in the process booted Belize down into the lowest league in CONCACAF.

The dream to qualify for a second time to the Concacaf Gold Cup, as we did in 2013, looks very distant.

Next season, Belize will have to fight extremely hard to get back to League B, and then to start working again to reach League A and have a shot at the Gold Cup.

French Guiana qualified to League A – (Photo Credit: Guyana Football League)

Thing is, it’s not impossible. Belize beat Group C winners, French Guiana, twice. But that’s good for nothing now as the South Americans moved out of League B and up to League A, while we moan about our bad luck … but is it bad luck?

Looks more like a lack of planning and selecting a good team. Only captain Erval Trapp and Charles Tillett played all the games. The BMNT looked different every game. Coach David Pérez could never get it right … except against French Guiana. He simply couldn’t solve the riddle of Bermuda and SVG. Not to mention all the other matches the BMNT has lost under his guidance … or should we say the lack of it.

The Belize Men’s National Team looked helpless on Tuesday against the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. That hurts Belizean football fans who are now up in arms asking for the coach’s  head. In fact, fans are now intensifying their calls for heads, from the top down, to roll at the Football Federation of Belize, which incidentally has called for elections in January 2024.

The situation for Belize is dismal. But we could have seen it coming. The reality is that we could have been there already from last year. Belize finished in last place in 2022, in the same group as French Guiana, but didn’t descend because relegation wasn’t in play then.

Looks like we didn’t learn anything then and it happened again.

Relegation really hurts.

Many fans think the Federation isn’t really concerned about the development of football, that they are more concerned with themselves.

FIFA has been investing a lot into the FFB, and while they have programmes for the development of players, officials, and referees in both men’s and women’s football, things don’t seem to be working … at least not just yet.

Belize Women’s National Team – (Photo Credit: FFB)

The Belize Women’s National Team might be the only good news to report about right now. Through no fault of their own, they found themselves in League C, but this year they have played wonderfully at their level and only need a point to be promoted to League B. What they do at that level, when they get there, is yet to be seen, but the drive and enthusiasm is there.

For now, the BMNT must be led by a coach who can better understand Belizean football and who has the experience to manage a tough group, because, if we must say it right, national team players are no easy lot to handle … and Belizean players are not the exception. But the coach should also be a person who can stand his ground with the non-playing personnel at the FFB who should be there for support to make the BMNT, and all the other national teams, function better.

The BMNT should be a mix of experienced and younger players and should certainly be more inclusive. A better selection process is a priority.

But for the BMNT to function better, the facilities and amenities for the players at the FFB have got to be improved.

All of that costs money and personnel who know what they are doing.

So, is the Federation up to doing the right thing? As a matter of urgency, they’ve got to do something and before the next Concacaf season because Belize cannot stay in League C.

 

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