Toluca's Pablo Velazquez will look to score his first-ever goal in the CONCACAF Champions League on April 23, 2014, in the final, second leg encounter against Cruz Azul at the Estadio Nemesio Diez. (Photo: Mexsport)
TOLUCA, Mexico – Toluca says its objective is to strike first in the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) final, second leg showdown against visiting Cruz Azul on Wednesday.
The Red Devils have scored a tournament-best 20 goals, 11 of which have been netted at the Estadio Nemesio Diez. Previous comments from head coach Jose Cardozo that the team will attack from the outset were confirmed by forward Pablo Velazquez and midfielder Antonio Rios.
“What the coach wants is that we go out looking for a goal from the first minute,” said Velazquez, a Paraguayan, who joined Toluca in 2013. “We are playing at home, on our field, with our fans, so we have to put forth and it is the manner in how we want to face this match, pressure from the first minute and try to stifle the opponent.”
For Rios, playing in such an important match is the only incentive necessary.
“The team is motivated to play a final at home,” he commented. “As a player it motivates you and we are not pressured. It is simply a match and we are at 0-0. It is a final that we have to win and I think the away goal does not have to be a problem. It does not have us worried.
With a win against Cruz Azul, Toluca would become CONCACAF champion for the third time in its history. Additionally, it would earn a berth in the FIFA Club World Cup next December in Morocco.
“We have a lot of enthusiasm to qualify for the Club World Cup,” the 27-year-old Velazquez expressed. “We know that it is going to be difficult. We have an opponent that plays well, with good players, but the hope and dream that we have, to many of us, it has not happened and we want to go out as champions…to be in the Club World Cup. It is the primary hope we have.”
Even though Toluca has never won in five all-time CCL games against Mexican opposition, it has conceded one goal or fewer in 12 of 13 home outings in the competition.