Action from Alajuelense's CONCACAF Champions League game against Sporting San Miguelito on August 22, 2013, at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City, Panama. (Photo: Micaela Alvarado)
For Alajuelense v Club America game notes, please click here.
ALAJUELA, Costa Rica – In a meeting of past confederation club champions, Alajuelense will look to kick start its season on Thursday, when it entertains Club America in a CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) Group 4 encounter.
Although neither has lifted the trophy since the tournament changed its title and format for the inaugural 2008-09 edition, the game promises to be an intriguing battle between a team that is looking to achieve its potential and another that continues on an excellent run of form.
It has been a difficult campaign thus far for the Manudos, who – despite key player additions in the offseason -- have yet to win in three Costa Rican Invierno games (1 draw and 2 losses). A 1-0 setback at Sporting San Miguelito in their CCL opener last week has added to the sense urgency that necessitates a good showing against America.
In football, though, there is always another match and a new opportunity to change one’s fortune. And that is how midfielder Ariel Rodriguez assesses the challenge of facing the reigning Mexican champion at the Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto Scotiabank.
“We feel a bit beaten, things are not going well for us but regardless we always have to show up,” said the Costa Rican international, who rejoined Alajuelense after the conclusion of the 2013 Verano, following spells at Santos de Guapiles and Perez Zeledon. “We’re positive that we’ll be bounce back and defeating America would be a great way of doing it. That is our next goal, we are all waiting and have a lot of motivation for this match.”
Club America, which has won a record-equaling five CONCACAF club titles, comes into the contest with an abundance of confidence. It is unbeaten after five Mexican Apertura matches (4 wins and a 1 draw) and leads the overall standings on goal difference over Leon, Morelia and Cruz Azul. The Aguilas also emerged victorious in their only CCL game, a 1-0 win over Sporting San Miguelito.
Rodríguez expounded that it will be hard to defeat America, but he believes it is possible if the team maintains its fighting mentality.
“The match against América is key,” continued Rodriguez. “They are a very difficult opponent but that motivates us and we will fight from beginning to end to leave ourselves the victory.”
With a place in the Champions League quarterfinals at stake, nothing less is to be expected.