Arabe Unido players, SCCL performance earn praise
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Action from the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League match between host Arabe Unido (pink jersey) and Monterrey on September 14, 2016, in Panama City, Panama. (Photo: Mexsport)

 

PANAMA CITY, Panama – Prior to starting its fourth-ever Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League campaign on August 3 with a 3-0 win over host Don Bosco, Monterrey had suffered only three defeats in 34 all-time games.

Two weeks later, the Rayados dropped a 3-2 to visiting Arabe Unido in what was regarded by many regional observers as the biggest upset in SCCL history.

That result proved not to be an aberration, when Monterrey once again fell to the Panamanian power last Wednesday. As a result of the 2-1 setback, the three-time SCCL champion was eliminated with a game to play, while Arabe Unido clinched the Group D title and a place in the quarterfinals. 

“I am very excited because we have found a team with a lot of humility, a lot of courage, that wanted to give everything and more against a great team like Monterrey,” said Arabe Unido head coach Sergio Guzman. “I have confidence in my team. I have confidence in the work I do. I trust in what I have dedicated myself to since I came here, the trust that the directors gave me when I arrived. They have helped me form a great team and these are the results. I repeat, I’m very happy and very proud of these boys.”

Guzman has ample reasons for pride. After all, the Expreso Azul accomplished in a handful of weeks what no other Panamanian team was able to do more than once – beat Monterrey twice in the same SCCL.

One of the keys to Arabe making history was the play of goalkeeper Miguel Lloyd, who was named the SCCL Week 4 goalkeeper of the week. The Dominican Republic international made a number of key saves, but none bigger than thwarting an Angel Lopez header at the left post in the 84th minute.

“I ask two things of a goalkeeper, he doesn’t have to do anything else: save, and get the ball away from the goal,” Guzman finished. “That is what you have to do because you are facing a team with a high level, that attacks with one, that attacks with two, three or sometimes four players. So Miguel’s game was very good. He has shown that he is a finals goalkeeper.”

Lloyd and Arabe Unido will have the opportunity to succeed on an even larger stage next year.