El Salvador names Lara head coach
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Eduardo Lara (right) is congratulated after being named El Salvador head coach on December 12, 2016. (Photo courtesy of Federación Salvadoreña de Fútbol)

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador – The Federación Salvadoreña de Fútbol introduced Eduardo Lara as the new head coach of the men’s national team at a press conference on Monday.

The Colombian has been in charge of the nation’s youth programs since October 2015, coaching the under-20 side to a place in the 2017 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship. He replaces Ramon Maradiaga, who departed after El Salvador was eliminated from qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in September.

“It makes me happy to come to the team,” said Lara. “I have come to work, to try to contribute to the team and add my grain to the growth of the country’s football.”

Although Lara’s first priority will be next month’s Copa Centroamericana – Central America’s championship for national teams that doubles as a qualifying competition for the CONCACAF Gold Cup – he emphasized long-term objectives. El Salvador has not participated in a World Cup since 1982.

“Everyone wishes that El Salvador comes to be what it was once before in football,” he expressed. “For that reason, we need a process and hard work. I hope that we can give good news to all Salvadorans. They all want El Salvador to return to how it was 30 years ago. For me, I want to stay until Qatar 2022, but it will all depend on the results.”

Lara earned an excellent reputation coaching Colombia’s youth teams from 2002-11, highlighted by a run to the 2003 FIFA U-20 World Cup semifinals, the 2005 South American Under-20 Championship title and a place in the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup quarterfinals. He coached the senior squad briefly in 2009.

Lara will remain key to the Salvadoran youth set-up and promised to give international opportunities to any deserving players regardless of their club.

“We will continue working with El Salvador’s youth levels, which have been doing a great job. We will not apse in our work at any moment,” the 57-year-old finished. “The players that want to join me will always have the doors open. I’m not biased. It doesn’t matter if he plays in Águila or the third division, if he’s good he’ll come.”