Llena: Nicaragua is no longer a CCA Cinderella

Nicaragua head coach Enrique Llena (pictured) reacts during his team's match for fifth place against Honduras in the Central American Cup on September 13, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo: Mexsport)

LOS ANGELES – In an attempt to continue its qualifying bid for a second-ever CONCACAF Gold Cup appearance, Nicaragua fell 1-0 to Honduras in the Copa Centroamericana TIGO USA 2014  match for fifth place on Saturday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Head coach Enrique Lllena thought his team deserved better, but lamented that good fortune was not on its side once again.  Antony Lozano’s goal with seconds remaining in the first half proved to be the difference.

"Honduras’ goal just before the end of the first half changed all tactical plans,” said Llena.  “We knew that the Hondurans would attack with two points, but they posed no danger.  I think that a draw would have been fair and then go to penalties.”

Despite losing all three CCA games, Llena praised the attitude of his players and claimed that Nicaragua can no longer be considered a Cinderella in the competition.

"Since arriving in Nicaragua, I've participated in three competitions,” the Spaniard noted.  “We have grown.  We have already shed the diapers and I can say that Nicaragua is now ready to qualify for any future event and they talk good things about this team.

"We’ve already reached the point of transition where we aspire to go a step further against opponents with many years of experience such as Costa Rica, Panama and Honduras, as we have shown.  It may sound contradictory, but despite being eliminated, I'm pleased because the players have had an attitude that encourages belief that we are going in the right direction."

Nicaragua’s only participation in the Gold Cup came in 2009, after defeating Guatemala 2-0 in the CCA’s fifth-place match earlier that year.