Marathon (green jersey) will host Olimpia in the first leg of the Honduran Clausura final on May 1, 2014. (Photo: Diario La Prensa)
SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras – The 2014 Honduran Clausura final kicks-off on Thursday with first-leg play between Marathon and visiting Olimpia at the Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano.
Marathon has been a revelation after starting the season slowly, going winless in 10 of its opening 12 matches. Since then, the Monstruo Verde is unbeaten in eight of its last 10 outings.
The stunning reversal has seen the San Pedro Sula-based side climb the table to qualify for the playoffs with a fifth-place finish and eventually triumph in two post-season series.
Head coach Manuel Keosseian is delighted for his team as well as its fans.
“May the Marathon fans enjoy this because they deserve it,” said Keosseian, a 60-year-old Uruguayan. “Hopefully we can do well in the final.”
A tightfisted defense has been key to Marathon’s recent success. It has conceded only three goals in its last eight games, including three straight shutouts.
That ability will be tested against Olimpia, which is led up front by Roger Rojas. The Honduras international has a team-high eight goals this campaign and struck in Sunday’s 1-0 semifinal, second leg win over Victoria.
In his first months as head coach, Hector Vargas is looking to lead the Lions to a 28th league title and a seventh consecutive CONCACAF Champions League berth.
Despite finishing first in the regular-season standings – eight points ahead of Marathon – he expects two tightly contested encounters.
“I don’t think it is an open match, it will be close,” said Vargas, 55, who was named manager in December.
When the Honduran powers last met on February 9, Olimpia triumphed 4-0 on the road. Rojas netted a brace, while Antony Lozano and Omar Guerra added a goal each.