Ana Lucia Martinez (pictured) is one of the outstanding players on the Guatemala women's national team. (Photo: Mexsport)
GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala - When the ball arrives at the feet of Ana Lucia Martinez, her teammates seem visibly comforted.
She was the fulcrum of the attack on Wednesday as host Guatemala defeated Honduras, 3-2, in Central American qualifying for the next FIFA Women’s World Cup. The victory assured the Chapinas a place in the CONCACAF Women’s Championship later this year, when the confederation’s representatives for Canada 2015 will be determined.
In Tuesday’s opening 1-0 win over Panama, Martinez assisted on Maria Monterroso’s first-half goal to score the only goal of the game.
Although she has not found the back of the net in the tournament thus far, scoring is Martinez’s specialty. She was top scorer in the national league on three occasions with her club Unifut – Rosal, which is led by Guatemala coach Benjamin Monterroso.
"The forwards and laterally moving midfielders have to rotate, we exchanged positions," Martinez said of the game against Honduras. "The game was won in part by the work of the defensive midfielders and the forwards.”
The 24-year-old is playing in her second World Cup Qualifying cycle and is using her experience to balance a squad that is relatively young.
"When we were up 2-0, we felt that we had control of the game,” Martinez noted in reference to the encounter against Honduras. “But the pressure and the knowledge that we were a goal ahead, of course, made us more anxious, but we ultimately preserved the result.
Martinez, a chemical engineer by profession, has a desire to play overseas. She has also used her athletic talents in “Un Día de Sol” (A Day of Sun), a movie about a footballer in which she was the lead actress.
"I think as a player you aspire to more, to keep improving, to play abroad,” Martinez expressed. “It would be a personal benefit and bring more to the team.”
Until that happens, she is preparing for the last Group I game against Belize on Saturday at the Estadio Mateo Flores and, then, on Monday contest another match for a place in the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto.