Head coach Mauricio Alfaro (pictured) is hoping to lead El Salvador to a second straight appearance at the FIFA U-20 World Cup. (Photo: Mexsport)
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador -- Mauricio Alfaro guided El Salvador to its first-ever FIFA U-20 World Cup berth, when the Cuscatlecos qualified for Turkey 2013.
Now, he hopes to duplicate that success as the Salvadorans prepare to host the Central American qualifying tournament for the next CONCACAF Under-20 Championship.
Beginning Thursday, the seven nations that comprise the Central American Football Union (UNCAF) will launch a process that could ultimately take some of them to New Zealand for the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
“The truth is Thursday, when we face Belize and then Guatemala,” said Alfaro, when asked in a recent interview if El Salvador can repeat the achievements of last year. “The team is good. We just have to fine tune the details on set plays and the errors that we commit inside the field.”
Despite playing the UNCAF competition in front of the home crowd and knowing that his side has big shoes to fill, Alfaro says that he is not plagued by the burden of expectations.
"Pressure, I don’t feel it,” expressed the 58-year-old, who played in one match for El Salvador in the 1982 World Cup against Argentina. “There is eagerness because this is a good group that we will give its best, that’s going to qualify and is going to fight for a ticket. This is our first goal, qualifying and second is to reach the World Cup."
In order to achieve those objectives, though, El Salvador must endure a rugged schedule of six games in 13 days.
"I see it going well,” Alfaro finished. “We are aware that in order to qualify we have to beat them all. We have to play each game planning to try and win each one if we want to qualify.”