Action from the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal between host Alajuelense and Arabe Unido (blue jersey) on March 10, 2014. (Photo: Imagenes en Costa Rica)
ALAJUELA, COSTA RICA – The first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) quarterfinal between Alajuelense and Arabe Unido ended goalless on Monday, but both head coaches expressed optimism for next week’s decider.
Arabe’s Jair Palacios praised the performance of his team, especially the defensive unit, which has not allowed a CCL goal in 283 minutes.
“I’m very at peace because defensively we comported ourselves very well,” said Palacios. “I had come to Costa Rica to see La Liga. It is an offensive team in certain parts. You had to be ordered and balanced. We made mistakes inside the lines, but we studied our opponent well.”
The Panamanians now turn their thoughts to the return leg on March 20th at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City. For the Colombian manger, a stronger offensive performance is necessary.
“I will respect La Liga at home, but in my own way,” Palacios expressed. “We have to improve our attacking detail and loosen up more.”
As for Alajuelense manager Oscar Ramirez, he lamented the fact that his team couldn’t find the back of the net despite attempting 21 shots. It marked the first time that the two-time confederation champion had been shutout at home in the CCL, ending a run of eight straight games with at least one goal at the Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto.
“We lacked finishing,” declared Ramirez, whose team has scored more than one goal in a CCL match only three times in 17 outings. “We had two or three clear chances, but that is football.”
Like Arabe Unido, the Costa Rican side’s defense continued an outstanding stretch of CCL form. The Manudos have not conceded a goal in 413 minutes. Panama’s Sporting San Miguelito was the last team to break through on August 22, 2013, coincidentally, at the Rommel Fernandez.
Ramirez admits that Monday’s match was difficult, but he is confident that the team will take care of business.
“You have to patient, sometimes things resolve themselves in the end,” the 49-year-old concluded. “Today’s match is more difficult than the one there. I think that we are a difficult away team. They will have to show themselves.”