The excitement is palatable as the July 7 opening of the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup at the Rose Bowl approaches, and perhaps nowhere in the world is the enthusiasm as great as it is in Belize.
As mentioned here earlier (Let’s hear it for the Belize Home Team! 1 July), this is the first time the Belize Jaguars will compete in the tournament, and the eyes of the world are turning to what will be a true David and Goliath match as the Jaguars take on the US team July 9 at the historic Jen-Went field in Portland, Oregon.
The world loves an underdog (remember that great Sylvester Stallone flick, Rocky?), so this match is generating a lot of attention and much good will for the plucky Jaguars, who the official Major League Soccer (MLS) website called “this year’s Gold Cup Cinderellas.”
In fact, here’s how the MLS described the upcoming match
“Without question, the Jaguars are this year’s Gold Cup Cinderellas. Belize have never before qualified for the tournament and the program has been a CONCACAF member for less than three decades. In fact, the nation of Belize itself (population: 334,297) is not much older than US national team captain DaMarcus Beasley, having only attained independence from Great Britain in 1981. The Football Federation of Belize has been scrambling to gather the finances required to send their boys to compete in the United States, raising funds through parties, corporate donations and even a telethon. The Kansas-born Mork, Belize’s third manager this calendar year, will set up his team in a defend-and-counter system, with striker Deon McCaulay and goalkeeper Shane Orio, who plays his club soccer with Honduran power CD Marathón, central to the Jaguars’ upset hopes.”
Our own sources in the US, and given the size of the Belizean diaspora up north, there are many, report that parties are already being organised and that a great many eyes and ears will be tuned to events in Portland that day. We even know of one party that will be held in Australia and another in the island paradise of Fiji. Anyone familiar with Belize knows what a surprising little country it is, and we’re convinced that a Belize victory is definitely within the realm of possibility.
Can you imagine? It would be one of those upsets that make soccer and sports in general so interesting.
And it can happen!
So stay tuned as we follow the lead-up to the match, and join us in wishing the Jaguars all the best. There’s no doubt it will be an uphill battle, but from what we’ve seen so far, there won’t be a lack of enthusiasm on the part of the Belizean players or their many fans worldwide.