• Wednesday Nov 14, 2012

    Central American leagues heat up

    There's plenty at stake this weekend in Central America's domestic leagues, as tournaments wind towards dramatic finishes.

    Here's a look at the action on tap across the sub-region.

    The Panamanian regular season concludes on Sunday at 3:00 PM, with a full slate of games to be contested at sites across the country.

    Two teams already have their playoff ticket booked, as leader Arabe Unido and Rio Abajo both wrapped up spots with games in hand. The Colon side leads surprising Rio Abajo by two points heading into the last date, and is set to host fourth place Chepo at the Western extreme of the Panama Canal.

    With 24 points and a plus-4 goal differential, Chepo is holding onto the final post-season berth by a thread over Chorrillo, also on 24 points but with a plus-3 goal differential. A loss in the visit to Colon could easily cost the Orange a post season spot.

    In the meantime, Chorrillo and third place Plaza Amador, on 25 points, square off in a match with huge playoff implications.

    To round out the Sunday slate, Tauro, with 21 points and minimal chances to qualify, faces San Francisco at Estadio Rommel Fernandez. Elsewhere, Rio Abajo hosts Alianza, while Atletico Chiriqui receives San Miguelito to close out both teams' campaigns in Ciudad de David.

    With three rounds left in the 2012 Winter Tournament, things will continue to clear up in the Costa Rican table this weekend.

    Alajuelense and Saprissa swapped places at the top of the table after La Liga emerged victorious midweek and the Purple Monster dropped an away match to Belen. Saprissa will try to regain form against a struggling Universidad San Carlos, while Alajuelense has a tough visit to third place Herediano on tap.

    This season's surprise team Limon will be looking to hold onto its narrow advantage in fourth place when it visits Uruguay, while Santos and hard charging Perez Zeledon are hoping to move closer to semifinal spots when they face off on Sunday.

    Elsewhere, Carmelita hosts Belen and Cartagines pays a visit to Puntarenas.

    A three-way tie at the top of the Apertura 2012 is set to be broken this weekend, with the marquee match pitting co-leader Aguila against fourth place FAS, which trails the leading pack by just one point.

    Isidro Metapan, another co-leader, visits Juventud Independiente, while the third table topper, Alianza, goes on the road to a UES side that took down Metapan on the road during the week.

    Rounding out the schedule, Luis Firpo visits Once Municipal and Marte plays host to Santa Tecla.

    In Nicaraguan semifinal round action, leader Real Esteli faces off against third place Managua FC, which could move back to the top of the four-team table with a win.

    In the weekend's other match, Real Juventus will be looking for its first points of the semifinal round in an encounter with co-leader Walter Ferretti in Managua.

    After two rounds in the space of five days, things look considerably clearer in Honduras, where a 3PM Sunday final match day kickoff across the country will decide the final teams to qualify for the six-team Liguilla.

    Olimpia has had its ticket sewn up for weeks now, but will look to continue its red hot form with a visit to Vida on Sunday. With 21 points, the Ceibeños are tied for the final Liguilla place, but a far inferior goal differential to Atletico Choloma and fifth place Marathon means Vida may need to beat Olimpia and get some help to qualify for the post season.

    After thrashing Platense midweek, Choloma can wrap up a Liguilla spot with a win Sunday, but the northerners will have their work cut out for them in a visit to third place Motagua, winners of three straight.

    Second place Victoria makes the short trip to Tocoa and freshly eliminated Real Sociedad, where a point will be enough for the Blues to secure a first round playoff buy. Elsewhere, a point would also be enough for Marathon to secure a playoff spot in a visit to last-placed Deportes Savio.

    Finally, traditional powers Real España and Platense both maintain outside hopes of qualifying for the post season when they do battle in San Pedro Sula.

    Things are slowly grinding towards a conclusion in the Guatemalan Apertura 2012, with usual suspects Comunicaciones and Municipal in the lead.

    Both teams have already played on an extended twentieth match day which saw Cremas knock off Universidad San Carlos on Thursday to extend their lead at the top, after Municipal had tied at home with Halcones on Wednesday. Petapa also started off the weekend on the right foot with a 2-1 win over visiting Juventud Escuintla.

    With three matches left for the other half of the Liga Mayor teams, no club is yet eliminated and the race for the eight-team playoff is still wide open as Mictlan prepares to host Suchitepequez this weekend. Two other matches have been suspended due to the earthquake that shook Guatemala on Wednesday.



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