Panama's Arabe Unido (left) in domestic league action against Plaza Amador on August 4, 2013. (Photo courtesy of Arabe Unido)
PANAMA CITY -- Three weeks into the Liga Panameña de Fútbol season, Arabe Unido finds itself in ninth place out of 10 teams.
And while Thursday’s CONCACAF Champions League encounter isn't a domestic match, the “furia colonense” can acquire its first three points by defeating DIRECTV W Connection in the Group 1 opener for both at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City, Panama.
The Colon-based team started with a 1-1 home draw with San Francisco FC on July 19, followed it with a 2-0 loss at Alianza FC on July 26 and then fell 1-0 at home to Plaza Amador this past Sunday. David Daniels has the team's lone goal.
Directed by Jair Palacios, Arabe is competing in its third CCL tournament, reaching the quarterfinals in 2009-2010 and playing in the group stage in 2010-2011.
The squad boasts eight Panamanian players who have played internationally -- defenders Eric Davis, Alejandro Vélez and Nahil Carroll, midfielders Armando Cooper, midfielder-forward José Justavino and forwards Orlando Rodríguez, Víctor René Mendieta, Jr. and Manuel Mosquera.
The 2012 Panamanian Apertura champion will be looking to snap a four-game losing streak in the CONCACAF competition.
DIRECTV W Connection is taking this competition seriously. The Trinidad & Tobago power side has augmented its roster for the tournament and the upcoming TT Pro League season, adding three Colombian players -- midfielders Yefer Steven Lozano Rubiano and Yhon Stiven Reyes Lopez, plus striker Camilo Andres Ortega Diaz.
Coached by technical director Stuart Charles Fevrier, the Savonetta Boys are making their second consecutive third appearance in the CCL and third overall. They have posted some notable results in the competition, overcoming the New York Red Bulls 4-3 on aggregate in a 2009 preliminary-round series and winning 3-0 at over Guatemala’s Comunicaciones later in the group stage.
Last year, W Connection drew 1-1 at home against Guadalajara of Mexico thanks to a 66th minute goal by Clyde Leon.
It has ample talent to make life difficult on the Arabe. The T&T side contains a number of players with national team experience -- defenders Daneil Cyrus and Kern Cupid, midfielders Joevin Jones, Leon and Silvio Spann and forward Matthew Bartholomew (all Trinidad & Tobago) , defender Vernus Abbott (Saint Lucia), midfielder Gerard Williams (Saint Kitts and Nevis) and forward Stefano Rijssel (Suriname).