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CD Olimpia, first Honduran club to win Champions' Cup
After obtaining 10 overall league titles (six amateur and four professional), CD Olimpia became the first Honduran club to win the CONCACAF Champions' Cup after defeating visiting SV Robinhood in the delayed two-game 1972 finals.
With only four victories in 14 previous Champions' Cup matches, the Leones qualified for their sixth CONCACAF tournament by winning the 1971-72 Honduran championship with 40 points (15-2-10 record).
The Surinamese side won its eighth championship in 1971 and became the first Caribbean side since 1967 to reach the finals of the confederation tournament.
"The entire team felt extremely happy as it was the first important championship from the North, Central American and Caribbean region that we had won," said former center forward Rigoberto Gomez, who scored 66 career goals for Olimpia."All of us that were competing didn't have much experience, but as we were the representatives of Honduras and playing for Olimpia under the instructions of our head coach Mario Griffin, we went into both matches thinking only about winning."
And that resolute mindset proved to be prophetic.
On January 28, 1973, the Leones opened the championship finals with a 1-0 triumph over the Geen Strijd, Geen Kroon before crowd of 15,000 at San Pedro Sula's Estadio Francisco Morazán.A goal by forward Jorge Brand just before halftime proved to be the game winner.
Three days later, the series remained in Honduras, moving to the Estadio Tiburcio Carias Andino in Tegucigalpa.It was there that Olimpia clinched its first CONCACAF crown to the delight of 20,000 spectators, holding SV Robinhood to a scoreless draw.
"SV Robinhood was a good club, comprised of players that competed in the Dutch League," recalled Gomez, who is also known the nickname of 'Shula'."Their goalkeeper (Edmund) Leilis was the hero in both encounters as he allowed only the goal from Jorge (Brand).
"We (Olimpia) will always remember that great 'keeper Leilis in that first game as he made some fantastic saves on at least six clear scoring opportunities and in the second match he was sharp once again in defending his goal, stopping all Olimpia's shots."
The Leones advanced in the abbreviated 1972 tournament by eliminating CD Toluca of Mexico (1968 Champions' Cup Winner) 2-1 on aggregate in the two-legged semifinal series played entirely in Tegucigalpa.
"We figured it would be easy after we had eliminated Toluca," Gomez added."However we realized that it was harder than we thought as those encounters against Robinhood, who were a tough opponent, turned out to be a learning experience as it helped us prepare to face CA Independiente of Argentina."
As a result of winning the CONCACAF title, Olimpia qualified for the Interamerican Cup.Despite brave efforts, it dropped both legs (June 17, 1973, San Pedro Sula: 2-1, June 20, 1973, Tegucigalpa: 2-0) to South American champion Independiente, the 1972 Copa Libertadores winner.
"For me the event (Interamerican Cup) was very important because we played well against the best team from South America despite losing both encounters," finished Gomez, who now resides in Borough of the Bronx in New York City."To this day, I still have it in my memory those important games against Toluca, Robinhood and Independiente during that era which I will never forget."
CD Olimpia, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary later this year, has won 24 Honduran league professional championships, as well as two CONCACAF Champions' Cup (1972, 1988) and three Central American titles (1981, 1999, 2000).The Leones are also one of only two teams (AD Isidro Metapan of El Salvador) to have qualified for every edition of the CONCACAF Champions League (2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12, 2012/13).
CD Olimpia Squad (vs. SV Robinhood)
GOALKEEPER: Samuel Sentini
DEFENDERS: Oscar Banegas, Selvin Cárcamo, Juan Ventura Lopez, Miguel Angel Matamoros
MIDFIELDERS: Toncontin Ferrera, Mario Mairena, Angel Ramon Paz, Raul Suazo
FORWARDS: Jorge Brand, Rigoberto Gomez, Reynaldo Mejia, Jorge Urquía.
TD: Mario GRIFFIN
Mario Ramos of Noticias de Honduras Internacional-NY contributed to the content of this story.