Action from the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League match between Pumas and host DirecTV W Connection (white jersey) on September 16, 2009, in Marabella, Trinidad & Tobago. (Photo: Mexsport)
COUVA, Trinidad & Tobago – History will mark Wednesday’s Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League meeting between DirecTV W Connection and Pumas at Ato Boldon Stadium.
The Group A rivals met twice during 2009/10 group stage, with W Connection giving the Mexican power everything it could handle.
The Savonetta Boys had Pumas on the ropes on September 16, 2009, when Renato Pereira put the host in front one minute from full time. Current Pumas head coach Juan Francisco Palencia, however, struck for the dramatic stoppage-time equalizer in a wild 2-2 draw at Manny Ramjohn Stadium.
Two weeks later, the scene shifted to Mexico City, where Pumas rallied from a 1-0 second-half deficit to win 2-1 on goals by Palencia and Oscar Rojas.
Hughton Hector, who was on the field that day for W Connection, remembers the result vividly.
“We had the lead in Mexico, so we were very confident until we made a mistake at the back and they scored after that,” the midfielder said. “We were very disappointed because we felt we could have gotten the result we wanted in Mexico which could have carried us through to the next round. Unfortunately, we made a mistake in the back and conceded two easy goals.”
Similar to Hector, Palencia carries memories of those encounters into his new post.
Following a 1-0 win over Leon on Sunday in the third round of the 2016 Liga MX Apertura, Palencia spoke of the importance of bringing a strong squad to Trinidad & Tobago.
“Our philosophy has always been that we give opportunity to youngsters,” said Palencia, who had nine SCCL goals as a player. “Let’s face the CONCACAF Champions League with due seriousness. Not using players who are not as active in the league means that we will neglect the Champions League. It’s an international tournament and we face it with due seriousness.”
Pumas enters the SCCL with a 2W-1D-0L in domestic league play and sits just two points behind first-place Pachuca.
Javier Cortes scored the lone goal in a tight battle with Leon, netting with eight minutes remaining in normal time.
“[The] result shows us that it is working well,” commented Palencia. “The victory was achieved through hard work and confidence in ourselves. We generated more opportunities, greater possession and circulation, although we are still not 100 percent.”
W Connection is hoping the fifth time in the SCCL will be the charm, especially since it has never advanced into the knockout rounds. A positive result at home Wednesday can go a long way toward achieving that goal.
“We are confident this time around we can get the result against them home which will push us forward in the rest of the group stage,” Hector finished.