Action from the first leg of the Costa Rican Invierno final between Herediano (yellow) and Alajuelense on December 16, 2013, Alajuela. (Photo courtesy of Herediano)
HEREDIA, Costa Rica – Come Sunday evening, all Costa Rican eyes will be fixated on the Estadio Eladio Rosabal Cordero, when Herediano hosts Alajuelense in the second leg of the Invierno final.
After the series opener ended in a scoreless draw, the current objective for both sides is straightforward: win.
Herediano, unbeaten in 11 consecutive home games, is the defending champion and a victory would give it a 24th title.
Head coach Marvin Solano proclaimed confidence in his squad at a Saturday press conference.
“We are on alert for an opponent that wants and has every right to dream about this great goal, but we do too,” said Solano. “That is what is beautiful about this game and, that is, nobody knows what is going to happen on the field. But we are convinced and we know that we have the tools to win.”
The visitors are focused on lifting the trophy for a record-equaling 29th time, a mark held by rival Saprissa. They will be relying on a defense that conceded a league-low 18 goals during the regular season and only one in the last seven matches.
With a capacity crowd of nearly 8,000, anticipated in Heredia, Alajuelense head coach Oscar Ramirez is expecting the Manudos to respond assuredly
“The unity of the group and experience of this team will be keys because they are aspects that are always in play in these instances,” said the 49-year-old, who won four titles with Alajuelense as a player.
The encounter will be marked by some significant missing personnel due to suspensions. Herediano will be without forward Victor Nuñez, while Alajuelense won’t be able to call on either winger Allen Guevara or midfielder Ariel Rodríguez.
NOTES: Herediano finished first in the regular-season standings with 49 points, two ahead of second-place Alajuelense … Herediano and Alajuelense have now met in four consecutive Invierno finals … If the score is level after 90 minutes, the game will go to extra time and, if necessary, penalty kicks.