MIAMI, Florida – Any time Honduran giants Olimpia and Motagua meet on the field, it makes for a special occasion and now the two legendary rivals will be squaring off for the first time in a Concacaf tournament.
Suffice to say, all of Honduras, if not the Central American region, is talking about Wednesday’s 2020 Scotiabank Concacaf League quarterfinal between the two sides, in which the winner will clinch a spot in the 2021 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League.
“It will be a wonderful match. They are separated by just a point in the domestic league, they are both strong teams, two teams that are well coached. Diego Vazquez has been in charge at Motagua for seven years, which is very rare here in Honduras, while Pedro Troglio has come in and snapped Olimpia’s drought of not winning titles, set a record for points and has lifted Olimpia to new heights internationally,” said former Olimpia GK Carlos Prono in an exclusive interview with Concacaf.com.
“Last year we had the chance of an Olimpia-Motagua final in the Concacaf League. Sadly, it didn’t happen, but now we will have it and at an important stage. This isn’t just another game. Here in Honduras football is lived passionately by the people and it is great that both teams are going into the match playing their best football,” added Prono.
Despite the fact that the match will not be played in front of fans due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Prono, who now works in Honduran television and radio, says that there is still plenty of anticipation and excitement being felt by the respective fan bases.
“Unfortunately, it will be behind closed doors. Both teams treat the Estadio Nacional like a temple, which is to say that they are very comfortable playing there. This match was really for another setting: with a full stadium, with a lot of people and televised throughout the area, but people are still anticipating the match other ways, like on social media and all of the talk is about the match. My only fear is that the match is too much like a chess game, that is it is too defensive and not attacking, but it is all there to be a memorable,” said Prono.
The Argentine shot-stopper is no stranger to the ups and downs of participating in the Olimpia-Motagua rivalry and the pressure felt by the fans. However, the fact that Olimpia are now used to playing behind closed doors during the pandemic may serve them well in Wednesday’s quarterfinal.
“Even for a regular season match, you would have 30,000 fans in the stadium, both teams very strong. I remember I was there playing the day David Suazo made his debut. It was a great celebration and we beat Motagua 4-1. I have experienced great things, but I have also lost two finals against Motagua. They are very hard-fought games. What’s interesting is that Olimpia in matches with no fans have not done well, but previously those were different situations as to why they were closed doors, but now perhaps they are better accustomed to playing in front of no fans,” said Prono.
In addition to the current Honduran domestic season and the 2020 SCL, Olimpia are still alive in the 2020 SCCL, where they lead Montreal Impact 2-1 on aggregate in the quarterfinals.
The Honduran club have never reached a semifinal in the SCCL and will now try to accomplish that when the tournament resumes in two weeks in Orlando, Florida. Prono believes that the revamped format of a single match elimination in the semifinals and Final could benefit Olimpia should they take care of Montreal in their quarterfinal second leg.
“I think with Montreal they have lost the advantage since they won’t be at home with their fans with that 2-1 lead. If there is no pandemic, I think Olimpia qualifies. I still think they are the favorite, but it will be more difficult. But at the same time, if they advance to the semifinals, I think a single match in the neutral site will benefit Olimpia against a Mexican club, so I do think Olimpia can reach the Final. They have a great team, they are used to big tournaments, they are playing well, they are well-coached, so they are in good shape,” said Prono.
Prono arrived to Olimpia in 1995 and has since made Honduras a second home. The club proved to be a lifeline for Prono’s career and there is no doubt that he will always hold a special place in his heart for Los Albos.
“Olimpia was like a new life for me. I had played in Argentina, Colombia, Chile, but I thought at age 28 my career had ended. But then an opportunity with Olimpia arose. I knew nothing about them, but I went and it ended up being five noteworthy years. I developed a strong link with the fans. Olimpia was a new life for me and another chance to play, so I am eternally grateful to Olimpia,” concluded Prono.