Contributed by: Don Winner
By William Ysaguirre - Freelance Writer: The Panama under 21 football team ended Belize’s hopes of qualifying for the Central American & Caribbean (CAC) under-21 football championships in Cartagena Colombia with a second victory by a 1-0 score at the M.C.C. grounds in Belize City on Sudnay, April 23. Panama’s striker #11 Gabriel Torres delivered the winning goal in the fourth minute of the second half when he drove the ball up the right flank to the goal line and blasted in a shot from the corner of the 18-yard box. Belize goalie Woodrow West got had gone to the corner of the goal to close the angle and got a glove on the ball but could not stop it from deflecting into the far left corner of the net. Belize had also lost the first game in Panama City when two players were ejected with red cards, but Belize’s strikers Bernard Linarez and Marlon Mesa still managed to score two goals in the 2-4 loss.
The Belize team took the field with the intention to turn things around, but they need a victory by a two goal margin just to tie the score and would need a 3-goal margin of victory to eliminate Panama and advance to Cartagena.
Their hopes of doing this took an early setback when Belize star striker Lennox “Criminal” Castillo was ejected with a red card in the fourth minute of play.
Castillo had gone down with Panama’s midfielder #8Christian Vega almost in front of the Panama bench, and Belizean referee Gerald Henry had witnessed when Castillo punched Vega in the face for the sloppy tackle before he got up.
Castillo’s offence may have warranted a red card, but the tackle by Vega was equally unsportsmanlike and should have also merited a red card.
Castillo represented a real threat for the Panama defense, and perhaps he was targeted to be provoked into losing his temper so that he might be ejected from the game and leave Belize one man down.
The Belize 10 played valiantly on, and penetratioons by Marlon Mesa and Dion Macaulay forced the Panama defenders into errors and fouls and won free kicks and even corner kicks for the Belize side.
Unfortunately the Belizean strikers were unable to convert these opportunities into goals as one kick by Bernard Linares went directly to the Panama goalie Jose Calderon and the second free kick by Linares went over the crossbar.
Even down by a man, the Belize side played good defense and several attempts by Panama’s #9 Edwin Aguilar to outflank them only resulted in him being blown offisde.
Belize refreshed its attack formation with Danny Jimenez, Tyrone Pandy and Khalil Velasquez in the second half, but to no avail, they could not equalise in the 41 minutes of the second half after the visitors had scored and the final whistle sounded to a 1-0 victory for Panama.
Belize under-21 team will next be preparing for the Central American football championships and possibly for the Olympic and Panam games, but Belize has yet to register for these tournaments. The cost of training and traveling and limited funding are factors affecting Belize’s participation and the future outlook for Belize international football aspirations.
Last Updated ( Friday, 28 April 2006 )