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Belize aims to make history
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica - In terms of international football, the times finally seem to be changing in Belize.

The team is yet to win its first-ever match at the UNCAF Copa Centroamericana (Central American Cup), after eight appearances and 20 matches over the years at the tournament. But the Belizeans arrived in Costa Rica this year with some defined goals and look to have the on-the-field ability to end the run of winless matches.

Guided by Costa Rican head coach, LeRoy Sherrier, who led the country to its first point ever in this competition twelve years ago, Belize showed a number of alluring qualities in its 2013 tournament debut Friday night, falling by the minimum 1-0 difference to host Costa Rica.

"We've only been working three months ago, and we can get better," Sherrier told CONCACAF.com. "We want to improve on that performance from twelve years ago. I along with the board of directors believe that we can achieve fifth place.

"Our goal is to get to the Gold Cup."

Qualifying for CONCACAF's most important tournament would be a history making feat for the country of just over 300 thousand inhabitants, given that to date the team has just four ties to show for its Copa Centroamericana participation.

However, Belize does baost a record of some success under Sherrier's command. Twelve years ago, the Costa Rican led Belize in a memorable performance at the 2001 UNCAF championship, played in Honduras. It was in that tournament that the coastal Caribbean nation obtained its first-ever point in UNCAF play, tying eventual champion Guatemala, 3-3.

The coach explained that in the opener of this year's edition, his team suffered a bit from nervousness in front of the partial Costa Rican crowd. Sherrier, though, could understand, since returning to his native country at the helm of another national team has also been an emotional experience for the one-time Saprissa coach.

"I feel good, because it's been a while since I coached at this level," said Sherrier. "Coming to Costa Rica, to my country, where I was born, is satisfying because it's a great honor for me."

"It´s a great feeling, because when I started playing football it was on this very field. Coming here to coach a national team, against the local team in the first round, is something beyond description," he added.

In Friday night's match with the host, a standout performance by goalkeeper Woodrow West, combined with a resolute Belizean defense and a surprisingly quick and fluid counterattack, caused problems for the Ticos all night. Those same abilities now promise to be the source of trouble for Belize's remaining Group A opponents.

For that reason, even if Belize is in fact yet to win an UNCAF match, its Costa Rican coach is certain that his team won't return empty handed to Belize this time around.

"I think we could have done even better," Sherrier said of Friday night's result. "But we're happy with what happened, against the home team. Now we'll be out for more."

Belize faces Guatemala on Sunday at 2 PM local time, before closing its Group A participation on Tuesday against Nicaragua. All the games of the 2013 UNCAF Copa Centroamericana are to be played at the Estadio Nacional in San Jose.

 
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