Action from the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal between Alajuelense and Arabe Unido on March 10, 2014, in Alajuela, Costa Rica. (Photo: Imagenes en Costa Rica)
PANAMA CITY, Panama -- After playing to a scoreless draw last week, Arabe Unido and Alajuelense will conclude their All-Central American CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series Thursday night.
Alajuelense players say they recognize the errors that were made in the home leg and will look to correct them at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez.
“We have worked a lot with the ball low, the crosses aren't played up, but rather down and strong to try to take advantage of a rebound,” said Honduras international forward Jerry Palacios. “We know that in the last game we made many mistakes. We played very direct and that’s their game.”
In a nod to Arabe’s strengths, striker Johan Venegas noted that Alajuelense needs to be strong in the midfield and maintain possession.
“You cannot lose balls in the midfield, a counterattack would be dangerous,” Venegas commented. “So you have to be well focused and track back to avoid surprises, concentration will be vital.”
While the Manudos haven’t played since March 12, Arabe Unido battled to a scoreless draw against Plaza Amador on Friday, extending its shutout streak to 225 minutes in all competitions.
Arabe’s stout defense, though, will be tested without goalkeeper Miguel Lloyd. The Dominican Republic international will serve a one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation after being cautioned for time wasting in the opening leg.
Midfielder Abdiel Macea is also suspended.
Still, head coach Jair Palacios is confident his club can get a positive result at home.
“We have to play a little more football, give freedom to the talent that everyone has,” said Palacios. “This will be a great game. We have the capacity.”
The winner will make its first-ever appearance in the semifinals against Toluca, which advanced on penalty kicks over the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday. Cruz Azul eliminated Arabe in the 2010-11 quarterfinals, while this is Alajuelense’s maiden voyage past the group stage.
Arabe Unido vs. Alajuelense