Action from the CONCACAF Champions League match between Olimpia (white) and host Real Esteli on August 21, 2013, in Esteli, Nicaragua. (Photo: Mexsport)
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras -- Still maintaining hopes of earning a place in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, Olimpia (1-0-1, 3 points) hosts Real Esteli (0-1-2, 1 point) knowing that it needs at least a point in Tuesday’s Group 2 encounter to avoid elimination. For CONCACAF official notes about this game, click here.
Anything less will diminish the importance of the Lions’ next CCL encounter against first-place Sporting Kansas City (2-1-0, 7 points), as the U.S. side will be playing for quarterfinal seeding.
Before concerning itself with matters of next month, though, the Honduran side has business to address at the Estadio Tiburcio Carias Andino.
After a 3-0 win over Vida on Saturday, Olimpia (5-1-1, 16 points) sits first in the Honduran league by a single point over Real Sociedad. Forward Antony Lozano had a pair of second-half strikes, while Honduran international striker Roger Rojas netted the other goal.
The Lions opened CCL play with a 1-0 victory at Esteli on August 21. Bayron Mendez scored early in the second half, a goal that would stand up for the remainder of the game.
Less than a week later, Olimpia lost at home in the CCL for the only the second time in 11 games, when it dropped a 2-0 decision to Sporting.
Despite being eliminated from CCL contention last week following a 1-1 draw at Kansas City, Real Esteli is taking its last game of the group stage quite seriously. It did not play a Nicaraguan league this past weekend in preparation for the match, but remains in first place with seven win and one loss in eight outings.
The result at Sporting was arguably Esteli’s best-ever in the CCL, ranking up there with last year’s 1-1 tie at home against Mexico’s Tigres. El Tren del Norte has never won in 12 all-time CCL games, but nine of those encounters have been decided by a goal or less.
Expect another tight one in Tegucigalpa on Tuesday.