PANAMA CITY, Panama – Although his side has yet to play a competitive game in the 2017/18 season, Honduras Progreso head coach Wilmer Cruz isn’t overly concerned heading into Tuesday’s Scotiabank CONCACAF League opener against host Chorrillo FC at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez.
Chorrillo has already played three matches in the 2017 Panamanian Apertura.
"About 20 percent worries me,” said Cruz. “It is not the same playing preparation matches as it is in a competition and Chorrillo takes a small advantage over us.”
One advantage Honduras Progreso has over its Panamanian rival is more recent experience in international play. Honduras competed in last year’s Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League (SCCL), posting a 2W-1D-1L record that included a stunning 2-1 win over Mexico’s Pumas.
Chorrillo has appeared in two SCCL editions, but none since 2014.
"We want to enjoy our second international tournament and do it in the best way,” the 51-year-old Cruz remarked. "We have to be prepared and we have been working 35-40 days. The only difference is that Chorrillo already has three games of competition compared to us."
While many of his players are CONCACAF veterans, the SCL is Cruz’s first international voyage as a head coach.
"Yes, it is my first international tournament as a coach, but the squad has several players that participated in the Champions League and others in the national team such as captain Carlos Sanchez, who played in the 2017 Gold Cup,” commented Cruz, a former Honduras international goalkeeper, who played in the 1991 CONCACAF Gold Cup final against the United States. "For me, this tournament is new, but we will intend to play it by all means. We have high level players.”
Sanchez is ready to give his all to the Honduras Progreso cause.
"I have gained a lot of experience in the Gold Cup,” the 26-year-old defender finished. “It will always be a difficult game playing as a visitor, but we have prepared well. The team is 100% physically ready to play a good game on Tuesday and hoping to bring us a good result.”