• Monday Jul 12, 2010

    Saprissa looks for lost treasure

    By Kenneth Hernandez Cerdas

    Saprissa returns to the CONCACAF Champions League for a third straight time in 2010, looking not only to advance out of the Group Stage for the first time, but recover the glory of five years ago when it went all the way to Japan.

    The Monstruo Morado (Purple Monster) remain the only Central American team to get to Club World Cup, and it has matched the best finish of any CONCACAF club in the tournament, finishing third in 2005.

    In 2010, the CONCACAF Champions League offers the Costa Rican giant a chance to return to that stage following a recent drought of international titles.

    Recently crowned champion of the Torneo Verano in Costa Rica, Saprissa will face Monterrey of Mexico, Marathón of Honduras and the winner between the Seattle Sounders and Isidro Metapan of El Salvador.

    Saprissa has a positive history against Monterrey, beating the Mexican club in the 2005 CONCACAF Champions Club final to qualify for Japan. It split its two games against Marathon in the 2008-09 Champions League Group Stage, handing the Honduran club its only loss.

    The challenge will be even greater this year, with Saprissa's history of failing to get past the Group Stage the past two seasons.

    The failure provoked despair in Costa Rica as the club's supporters had become accustomed to seeing the club hold its own with the top clubs of the region.

    Saprissa's prestige carries an even greater burden, having been recently chosen as the CONCACAF team of the century by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS)

    To live up to the honor, the club will look to a team based around a mix of youth and experience, led by veteran defender Victor Cordero, one of the few surviving members of the 2005 Club World Cup team.

    The return of defender Gabriel Badilla, as well as the acquisition of former national team veteran Esteban Sirias, represent two solid newcomers in order to take on the challenges presented by the Champions League.

    Also, the young talent is represented by forward Josué Martínez and midfielder David Guzmán, who were awarded their first caps with the national team earlier this year.

    The team will be coached by Roy Myers, who will be making his debut in this type of competition.

    "We have to be conscious of the history of Saprissa," Myers said. "To return to CONCACAF is a joy and a big responsibility as everyone's dream is to return to the Champions League. We are going to take the tournament completely seriously."

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