Action from the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League match between Antigua GFC and the host New York Red Bulls (white jersey) on August 43 2016, in Harrison, New Jersey, USA. (Photo: Mexsport)
HARRISON, New Jersey – Despite a 3-0 loss at the New York Red Bulls in its Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League opener on Wednesday, Antigua GFC is remaining upbeat about its chances of progressing to the knockout rounds.
The 2015 Guatemalan Apertura champion fell behind 1-0 in the 14th minute on a Jose Pinto own-goal and then was reduced a player after Sixto Betancourt’s 26th minute ejection. New York added two goals after the hour mark to complete the scoring.
“We are going to take this loss with a lot of maturity,” said Antigua GFC midfielder Fredy Thompson, whose only career SCCL goal came nearly seven years ago while playing for Comuncaciones against Pumas. “It is a team with young players and experienced ones. We are aware of what we are playing for, and what’s still left to play yet.”
Prior to Betancourt’s red card, Antigua was able to carve out a few chances. By no means did it appear overwhelmed by the occasion of its first-ever SCCL match. Head coach Mauricio Tapia, however, believed that going down a man impacted his team physically and psychologically.
“We have to acknowledge that the result was not good for us,” he said. “I think in the course of the match with 11 players we had it under control and we were breaking quickly on the counterattack. With a man less, and as time passed, the match got complicated for us. Sadly, for us, they found their finishing, which we lacked in the first 20 minutes.”
With its next SCCL game not until August 23 at El Salvador’s Alianza, Antigua GFC will have plenty of time to absorb the lessons learned from the setback. Thompson made the point that there’s no reason for panic.
“The [SCCL] has barely started,” finished the 34-year-old Guatemala international. “We have three matches in front of us in which we will have to play for everything to be able to qualify for the next round. Nobody likes losing and we have to take advantage of the positive things.”