Season One Episode Three: End of October
October had come to an end, and the first third of the season was finished. Time for a match update. The first matches Platter managed his team in were friendlies, both against much stronger teams from bigger competitions. As he expected, the team lost both. In the first, against Quirigua, the were outclassed. But especially in the second friendly, against Villanueva, a professional team from Honduras, was one where his team created a decent amount of chances. It was encouraging to see, as the difference in quality on paper was much bigger than that on the pitch.
The first competitive match the Bandits played under the reign of Seb Platter, was a very big match. It was Platter’s first match in the CONCACAF Champions League, a competition he’s hoping to win in a couple of years. Now though, this seems far away, as the teams in his side’s group were all much, much better than Belmopan. The first match, against El Salvadorian champions Isidro Metapán ended in a 4-0 loss. To give you an idea of how big the gap in quality is between the two: the El Salvadorian Premier League is 12th in terms of reputation. The Belizean league is 54th.
Next up was an even harder task: a home game against last year’s Champions League winners, Cruz Azul. Not only are they the reigning champions of North America, they’re also the reigning champions of Mexico, the highest ranked league in North America. As Platter expected, the match was different than other matches: the stadium was sold out, and there was much more media attention for him. Before the match, he was already talking about “trying to concede as little goals as possible.”
But at the break, the score was still 0-0. Although Cruz Azul had about 20 shots, they weren’t dangerous shots and when they did hit the target, 28-year-old keeper Woodrow West was there to prevent any goals. Platter was starting to believe in a huge stunt, and, when the score was still 0-0 in the 80th minute, he decided to switch to an even more defensive playing style. The last 10 minutes went by without any serious chances, and the stadium exploded. In only his second game as a manager, Platter had already become a hero for the people in Belize. He and his tiny football club held out for a draw against North America’s best team.
After these two competitive matches was a big hiatus to the next ones, so Belmopan arranged two friendlies, to keep the fitness levels high. The Bandits played against two lower league sides from Belize, but in the first friendly, against Griga United, the Belizean champions lost. Although they had about as many chances as Griga, they wasted many of them. Platter was angry. The next match was against San Felipe, and the manager desperately wanted to win a match after his first five ending in a defeat or in a draw. But again, the team lost, after a 91st minute equalizer.
The next match was another match in the Champions League, this time it was a home match against Isidro Metapán. The stadium was packed once again, after the sensational draw in the last match. Platter was pumped for this match, and was starting to believe another miracle was possible. At half-time, Belmopan had taken the lead three times, but Isidro had come back from behind three times as well. But despite warning his team many times, the match ended in a 3-6 defeat. Seven matches, zero victories for Platter. But almost all the teams they played, were much better.
The eighth match in the Englishman’s career marked the start of the Belizean Premier League. This was the perfect start to clinch his first victory. Belmopan started with a relatively easy home match against San Ignacio United, one of the weakest teams in the competition. Platter emphasized to his player that they have to win the championship, and that a winning start would be vital to achieving this. But, like it has been many times this season, Belmopan were sloppy in front of goal, and despite having 18 shots, they scored only two times. Their opposition had 8 shots but scored twice as well. Yet another disappointing result for Platter and his team.
Following this disappointing result, once again, the Bandits faced Cruz Azul again, this time in Mexico. The team couldn’t qualify anymore, but Platter still wanted his boys to show some character, and maybe even cause another upset. But as he expected, the team failed to cause an upset. The match ended in a 3-0 defeat, which wasn’t too horrible all things considered.
The match in the CONCACAF Champions League was the last one for this season, and now Platter had all the time to focus on winning the championship. The tenth match in his Belmopan career was an away game against Defence Force. Every Bandits fan was hoping for their favourite club’s first ever victory under their first ever non-Belizean manager. After a nine-game losing streaks, Seb Platter finally won his first game in management, and naturally, we has ecstatic. Now it was his duty to keep the team winning, and finish first in Belize.