Sunday, March 27, 2011

Belize and Nicaragua

I like comparing the Central American Countries. They are all roughly the same size as opposed to the Caribbean nations. The Central American countries are usually ranked higher than most Caribbean countries. This new CONCACAF qualification for the World Cup has my mind racing. I have been grouping nations in 4 teams groups and looking for the nations that could be the big surprise.
Belize and Nicaragua are 2 countries that have underperformed compared to the fellow Central American counterparts. This brings me to the next World Cup qualification process. The biggest question I have is will each of these counties host games in their home Countries.

Nicaragua played the Netherlands Antilles in a home and away series in the last World Cup Qualifying campaign. Nicaragua played their home game at Estadio Cacique Diriangen, in Diramba Nicaragua. This stadium packed 7,000 spectators in to see the national team play. Diriangen F.C is the power house in Nicaragua. Diriangen F.C has won a record 26 Championships. The next closest team is Real Esteli with only 9 Championships. Previously this was the biggest and best stadium Nicaragua had to offer. Nicaragua has recently completed a new National Stadium in the Capitol of Managua. The stadium will be installing lights at a cost of over $500,000 this year. Finally this country that has been trailing the other teams in Central America will have a real boost playing in front of their home fans in a stadium they can be proud of. Nicaragua has just hired Brazilian Charles Pair de Oliveira as the third foreign coach in addition to the Spanish team led by Enrique Fill Leon. Olivera has 2 main objectives. One is to get the national team ready for the proposed 4 team groups in round 1 of qualifying. Second goal is to help improve all levels of Nicaraguan soccer through teaching and classes. These two big aspects will make Nicaragua a nation to watch in the next qualification campaign.

Belize is a nation much harder to judge. The reason is the lack of information the Federation provides. The Belize web site is pathetic with quality information. The last information I have on their stadium is the goal projects that date back to 2009. The goal project was completed and the first international game was against vs Trinidad and Tobago 10th September, 2010. The game was a 0:0 tie in Belmopan but I have no information about the attendance. This did not tell me however the big question. Does Belize have a FIFA qualified stadium to host World Cup Qualifying games? I have to assume if FIFA goal project funded the project the pitch has to be qualified. This is great news for Belize if they can host 3 World Cup Qualifying games on home soil.

This is great news not only in each country but also Central America. These 2 nations are raising the level of play and the federations are committed not to fall too far behind the other Central American Countries. I would have to say Nicaragua is a few steps ahead of Belize. However this does not matter if they meet on the pitch. In the last Central American Cup both nations lost to Panama and El Salvador. Then the grudge match between the two nations started. Neither nation wants to be the “worst” team in the region. The game ended in a 1:1 tie. Since these national teams do not have the resources to play very much we have to go back to the 2009 Central American Cup for their previous battle. This just happened to be another 1:1 tie. We will have to watch each of these nations. Let the other Central American Nations take note. Both Nicaragua and Belize do not want to be left in the dust and they will be playing on their home pitch to give them the edge they never had.
Belize is presently in a home and away friendly games with the Cayman Islands. They played today, however checking the Belize web site, UNCAF web site and FIFA web site I still have not result. I find this lack of information maddening.


Jochi said...

Wonderful, wonderful site. Look forward to commenting on future articles, and perhaps some older ones.

I can particularly go into more depth as to why the Dominican Republic is such an underperformer, a topic you've touched on. It's been mentioned that we don't care about soccer, which isn't entirely true, but the country as a whole *is* more focused on other sports. Still, there is an entire region of the country, mostly along the northern side, along the border, where soccer is king. Our FA, unfortunately, is run by a bunch of corrupt incompetents (probably not the first time that's been said) so that has stifled development... I mean, this is a country that has recently hosted the Panamerican Games, but yet the FA couldn't make the appropriate checks to the national stadium to get it FIFA approved... smh.

But don't get us wrong: with those provinces we have an effective soccer-loving population of at least 500,000. That is more than enough for many Caribbean teams...

Lorric said...

I find it amusing you say they are all "roughly the same size."

Guatemala - 14M
Honduras 7.5M
El Salvador - 5.75M
Nicaragua - 5.75M
Costa Rica - 4.5M
Panama - 3.5M
Belize - 333K

Nicaragua would have an outside shot of getting into the last 12 with a very good draw I think. Belize, no chance.