• Wednesday Nov 14, 2012

    For Olimpia, the future is now

    TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras -- In celebrating the 100th anniversary of the club's founding this year, historic Honduran side Olimpia has undoubtedly gotten quite used to the spotlight. The team has had a banner year on the field, winning the last two Honduran titles, and even faced off against European giant AC Milan in an August friendly played in the United States.

    No single pair of games, perhaps, will have been more meaningful to the Lions' chances of celebrating their centennial with a bang than those to be disputed in the coming days. This weekend, Olimpia takes on Motagua in the Honduran Superclasico in Tegucigalpa, before traveling to the U.S. for a decisive CONCACAF Champions League showdown with the Houston Dynamo three days later.

    It all begins with the big game Saturday at the Estadio Nacional, the scene of numerous memorable encounters between two of Honduras' most fabled teams. Olimpia comes into the derby on top of the Apertura table, while Motagua trails the Lions by a full ten points, tied for sixth position.

    All is far from lost for the team in blue, though. A Motagua win would catapult the Eagles into third place and close the gap on leader Olimpia with four matches remaining in the regular season. An Olimpia triumph would assure the Lions of a spot in the upcoming liguilla and, at least temporarily, open up a seven-point lead over second-place Victoria.

    A win would also give Olimpia plenty of momentum headed into its midweek tilt in Houston that will decide which of the two progresses to the quarterfinals of the regional club tournament.

    With the games coming hard and fast, it's clear that two vital fixtures in two countries in a span of four days will be a challenge even to Honduran champion.

    "We must train thinking of Motagua and also thinking of the game in Houston, because we have practically no time to train between the games," Olimpia coach Danilo Tosello told media in Honduras on Thursday. "We'll try to choose the best players for Motagua and the best ones for Houston."

    No matter the lineup choices, the quick turnaround will test the Lions' depth, and Tosello may choose to rest some of his players against Motagua that returned from recent national team duty.

    Four of Olimpia's players were part of the Honduran national team that clinched passage earlier in the week to CONCACAF's final World Cup qualifying round, with Luis Garrido and Donis Escober starting matches in Panama and at home against Canada. Roger Rojas and Juan Carlos Garcia were also part of the national team's triumphs.

    To help deal with the fixture congestion, Tosello does get defender Johnny Palacios back from suspension on Saturday. While the La Ceiba native won't be eligible to face Houston on Tuesday due to yellow card accumulation, he should play a role against Motagua.

    Last time out in the CONCACAF Champions League, Olimpia let slip an early lead on the road in El Salvador, dropping a 2-1 decision to FAS. With four points in Group 3, the Lions enter the final group match three back of the Dynamo.

    After the two teams played to a tie in Tegucigalpa earlier this year, the Hondurans know that a victory by any margin on Tuesday would send them through to next year's quarterfinal round, enhancing an already memorable centennial celebration.

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