Belize set off on the road to World Cup finals in style

The qualifying process for the 2014 World Cup finals began on Wednesday with Belize’s Deon McCauley hitting a hat-trick in the opening match on the road to Brazil.

By (Reuters)

Published: Thu 16 Jun 2011, 10:17 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 8:10 AM

McCauley struck three times for Belize as they beat Montserrat 5-2 on Wednesday in the North, Central America and Caribbean (CONCACAF) regional preliminary round.

The first leg tie was the first of an expected 832 qualifiers for the finals in Brazil in which all but five of FIFA’s member associations are set to take part.

The game was played in Couva, Trinidad, as Montserrat does not have a suitable venue for an official FIFA qualifier but the return leg will be held in Belize on Sunday.

While neither side has the slightest chance of reaching the 32 team World Cup finals in three years time, as always there was plenty of pride at stake.

The match, which was not televised, was level at 1-1 at the interval before McCauley and Belize turned it on in the second half.

Both Montserrat’s goals, including their 86th minute consolation, came from Jaylee Hodgson.

Running Montserrat’s national team has become a complicated exercise since a 1995 volcanic eruption forced more than half the island’s population to move abroad and buried the capital Plymouth.

The British territory is 202nd and last in the FIFA rankings alongside Anguilla, Andorra, Papua New Guinea, American Samoa and San Marino.

Belize have reached the loftier heights of 172nd in the world rankings and coach Jose de la Paz Herrera has World Cup experience as the 70-year-old led his native Honduras to the finals in Spain in 1982, the first of their only two appearances at the tournament.

Although the main draw for the 2014 qualifiers will take place in Rio de Janeiro on July 30, a number of preliminary matches will be played in CONCACAF and Asia before then.

Eight other teams are involved in the CONCACAF preliminaries with Anguilla facing Dominican Republic, the US Virgin Islands taking on the British Virgin Islands, Aruba meeting St Lucia and Bahamas facing the Turks and Caicos Islands.

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