Alfredo Stephens (#19) has bright future with both Chorrillo FC and Panama. (Photo: Mexsport)
PANAMA CITY, Panama -- His switch to Chorrillo FC had been in the process of negotiation since before the end of the 2014 Panamanian Clausura. Now, Alfredo Stephens is part of a "Yellow Fever" side that has set two objectives for the new season: defend its domestic title and capture a place in CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.
Even though head coach Jullio Medina III wants those goals to motivate his players throughout the campaign, he knows that a step-by-step approach is required. Stephens’ versatility, though, allows Medina the luxury of being more calculated in the development of game plans.
The impressive 19-year-old, who spent the previous year with Plaza Amador, can perform with equal effectiveness as a center forward or as a winger.
Defenses need to account for his speed, skill and scoring ability. Those were the traits that caught the attention of the Chorrillo staff, as well as new Panama head coach Hernan Dario Gomez.
While becoming familiar his new club, Stephens has also been training with the national team, hoping to earn a spot in the squad as it enters a new four-year cycle.
"I feel very happy,” said Stephens, a standout player at the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup. “I believe for all that has been given me I always thank God. They (the national team coaching staff) gave me a call to the senior team for the first time. I have to face it in the best way as I always do. I have two challenges and I always have to continue working in silence for my family.”
In the Clausura semifinals final last May, Stephens’ new team outlasted his old one on penalty kicks after their two-legged series ended in a 1-1 draw. He is delighted to play for the current champion.
"It was a club to which I wanted to go," Stephens expressed. “It is the champion. I have to adapt to the football of my teammates. Up to now, I have been doing it quite well. It is a tight-knit team, which works with humility. I must give my best."
Chorrillo will be making a second appearance in the CONCACAF Champions League and will face stiff competition in Group 6. It will play a pair of matches against both Cruz Azul – the current champion -- and 2013/14 semifinalist Alajuelense. The club, however, is taking the stance of respecting, but not fearing, its international rivals.
"Things always happen on the field," Stephens finished. ”With the work we have been doing every day, you cannot say that the CONCACAF Champions League is just any league. They are the best clubs in the area. Many eyes call us abroad. We must deal with it the best way."