Guatemala's Hamilton Lopez (pictured) trains at the Proyecto Goal facility in Guatemala City ahead of a World Cup qualifier against Trinidad & Tobago. (Photo: Luis Rolando Solares)
GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala – As Guatemala prepares to re-enter the World Cup Qualifying fray, a hard-working veteran may be handed his first-ever cap.
Xelaju’s Hamilton Lopez is hoping to play a role in the fourth-round opener on Friday against visiting Trinidad & Tobago at the Estadio Mateo Flores.
Known for his relentless commitment on the field, the defender -- an agricultural worker for 20 years in his native Jutiapa – was surprised, but grateful, to receive a national from call-up from head coach Ivan Sopegno.
"I always aspired to play with the national team," Lopez told CONCACAF.com. "It's a big challenge. When I was informed of the call, I shed some tears.”
The 32-year-old made his Guatemalan league debut seven years ago with Municipal, but he’s now ready to make an international impression…especially on those in his hometown.
"It is the dream of my family, the people in my village (El Progreso, Jutiapa) and my loved ones," said Lopez, whose Xelaju side enjoys a five-point lead atop Apertura table. “I am grateful to coach Ivan Franco Sopegno for the opportunity for national team.”
Rather than being sentimental, however, he is focused on the Trinidadians.
"It will be difficult to face them,” Lopez finished. “They (Trinidad & Tobago) have good football and have grown. It will not be easy, but we are confident that we will make a good match and make the most of it in our stadium. We have everything to gain.”