• Wednesday Nov 14, 2012

    Alajuelense heads to Mexico with confidence

    ALAJUELA, Costa Rica - With plenty of optimism and hopes of qualifying for the quarterfinals of the 2012-13 edition of the CONCACAF Champions League, Alajuelense departed Monday for Mexico, ahead of a Wednesday night showdown with Tigres in Monterrey.

    It's all come down to this final match in Group 6, with the Costa Ricans sitting atop the table on seven points, and the Mexican side just two back.

    That makes the scenario for the final group match absolutely clear for both sides: Tigres need a win to advance, and avoid becoming the first Mexican team to miss out on the quarterfinals since the tournament went to the group format for the 2008-09 season.

    Given the high stakes, Alajuelense's players are categorizing this match as one of the biggest of the year for them.

    "We know what we're playing for," goalkeeper Patrick Pemberton told the club's website, lda.cr. "This is one of the biggest matches, maybe the biggest of the semester for us, because we're close to qualifying."

    The Rojinegros finds themselves in a promising position after having navigated the group stage undefeated to this point. When the two teams met on August 22nd in Costa Rica, Tigres was only seconds away from earning a valuable victory on the road. A goal one minute into second-half stoppage time from Luis Valle gave La Liga a share of the points.

    That result will be a boost to the Costa Ricans' confidence heading into the Estadio Unversitario, but they know all the same that a different environment awaits them in the building known as "The Volcano."

    "This game is a final, we're not holding anything back," said attacker Allen Guevara. "We're going to get the points. We studied the last match that we played here (in Costa Rica), though we know going there that things will be totally different."

    Despite the standings, the Costa Ricans say they have no intention of playing for a tie, and the single point that would hand them the classification. As the game wears on, though, head coach Oscar Ramirez's team will be conscious of the opportunity to get a result and make history.

    "We're going to play a good game, to go for the win and if not, at least the tie," said defender Kenner Gutierrez. "Everything is in our hands to bring back the qualification we desire."

    Aside from an advantage in the Group 6 table, Alajuelense will have some history on its side when it takes the field Wednesday night. While this is Tigres' first participation in the CONCACAF Champions League, Alajuelense won the tournament in 1986 and 2004, when it was known as the CONCACAF Champions Cup.

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