Juan Manuel Salgueiro (pictured) celebrates after scoring in Toluca's 2-0 CONCACAF Champions League semifinal, second leg win over visiting Alajuelense on April 9, 2014. (Photo: Mexsport)
MEXICO CITY, Mexico – Ahead of the first leg of its CONCACAF Champions League final encounter against host Cruz Azul, Toluca is confident and unstressed.
At a press conference on Monday evening, head coach Jose Cardozo spoke about his team’s mindset before the next day’s encounter at the Estadio Azul.
“There is not a bit of pressure,” said Cardozo. “They are great players. We are accustomed to playing difficult matches and that puts us at ease, knowing that it is a squad with a lot of experience in what it has been through, what they have given. The team is good. It is not feeling any bit of pressure.
“We are relaxed but concentrated knowing in what we have to do tomorrow.”
Cardozo, who won a CONCACAF club title in 2003 as a player with Toluca, maintained that there are no favorites in a series that pits the top two teams in the current Liga MX Clausura standings against each other. The Red Devils are targeting a good result in the opener, so that they have the upper hand in the return leg next week at home.
“They are two strong teams, two teams with a lot of tradition in Mexican football,” expressed the 43-year-old. “We know that we have a difficult opponent and also we want to be difficult for them. It is an important match and we want to win it. We are going to be focused on the 90 minutes and try to take home an advantage from here.”
Though Cardozo anticipates that Toluca will maintain its style and play good football, he realizes that the game will be tightly contested.
“I think it is going to be a close game,” the former Paraguay international concluded. “We have to be smart in having possession of the ball. We have to be concentrated all 90 minutes. We are going to play to our style…play well, we try to always play well and look for the opponents’ goal, to have the calm of scoring the first goal and then suddenly be able to manage the match.”