Guatemala's CSD Municipal will be looking to put on a show for their home fans on Wednesday when they host CD Toluca FC of Mexico in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions Cup quarterfinal series.
Estadio Mateo Flores is expected to be filled to its capacity of nearly 45,000 as the 2001/02 Liga Mayor bi-champions host a Toluca side expecting to feature Paraguayan international José Saturnino Cardozo, named "Rey de América" for 2002.
Cardozo leads a powerful Toluca attack which has the second-most goals in the Torneo Clausura in Mexico's Primera Division, after scoring a remarkable 55 goals in 19 games in winning the Apertura. Cardozo has 13 goals in the Clausura after scoring 50 in the last calendar year, but Municipal technical director Hugo Ever Almeida feels his club can get a positive result.
"They have a roster full of good players, with good control of the ball. Generally, they finish their attacks with either a shot or chance at goal. That is why I consider them a good team, even though I think they have some weak spots which we hope to take advantage of," said Almeida.
Municipal currently lie in second place in the Torneo Clausura in Guatemala's Liga Mayor with 20 points through 11 matches, six points off the pace established by their arch-rivals CSD Comunicaciones. Last weekend, the rojos came from behind to salvage a 2:2 at home to Club Deportivo Teculután, an own goal by Teculután's Noé Dávila at the final whistle giving them the point.
They narrowly advanced in the Champions Cup round-of-16, a late goal from Juan Carlos Plata in a 2:1 loss away in the second leg as Municipal advanced 5:4 on aggregate.
Toluca are in 10th place overall in the Torneo Clausura, seven points off the lead, but just two points behind Group One co-leaders Club América and CF Atlas. They dropped a disappointing a 3:1 decision at home to CDSC Cruz Azul on Saturday as three goals in the final half-hour gave the visitors the comeback victory.
Despite all their recent domestic successes, Toluca technical director Alberto Jorge knows his team will have to overcome adverse conditions to post a good result Wednesday, much like they did in their first round series against W Connection FC of Trinidad &Tobago. Toluca was forced to score three late goals to grab a 3:2 first-leg win at home, before holding on for a 3:3 draw away to scrape by 6:5 on aggregate.
"It is a large stadium, full of tradition and it will be full because Municipal is the people's team. There will be many people and much confidence that they can win against The Powers to the North' it will be a difficult match," he said.
"In these countries, to defeat a Mexican champion represents an honor, I know a few of those, and that's why I'm going to be watching a couple of video. I know Plata is a good goalscorer, (German) Ruano will be playing with an injury and possibly might not play, (and Mario) Acevedo is also a good scorer. They have important players."