Honduras Progreso’s Castellon excited for SCCL debut

Honduras Progreso head coach Hector Castellon (pictured) attended the 2016/17 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League draw on May 30, 2016, in Miami Beach, Florida.

MIAMI BEACH, Florida – If Honduras Progreso is to advance past the group stage in its first-ever Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League (SCCL) appearance, navigating through four games against competition veterans successfully is a must.

On Monday, the 2015 Honduran Apertura champion was drawn into Group A with two-time semifinalist Pumas and DirecTV W Connection, which is participating for a fifth time.

Head coach Hector Castellon, who attended the festivities at the Fontainebleau Hotel, was delighted to discover his team’s opposition.

“We wanted to play a Mexican team,” the 55-year-old said. “For me it is an honor to play Pumas. I know that organization very well. I know Mexican football well. It’s going to be an honor to face them. We will try to be competitive and look to defeat them.”

Pumas is 3W-0D-1L in four all-time SCCL games against Honduran, defeating Real España twice (5-1 away, 4-0 home) and splitting with Marathon (0-1 away, 6-1 home).

As for W Connection, Castellon expects a pair of difficult encounters with the CFU Club Championship runner-up, especially since it defeated visiting Saprissa, 2-1, in last year’s tournament.

“W Connection will be a difficult match,” remarked Castellon, a player with Olimpia in the late 1970s. “We know less of them than Pumas, but we will try to be rivals and try to take the advantage in the two matches. It will not be easy, no doubt, but we believe we can do it.”

After not reaching the 2016 Clausura playoffs, Honduras Progreso wants to strengthen the squad. Castellon, however, has a solid base from which to build. Goalkeeper Woodrow West is a Belize international, while defender Dilmer Gutierrez and forward Angel Tejeda (13 goals during the 2015-16 season) have been capped by Honduras. Forward Fredixon Elvir has four career SCCL goals, one with Victoria and three with Olimpia.

“We are looking for a right winger and in that sense we are trying to choose carefully, trying not to make a mistake in the selection of the player,” Castellon finished. “We have rounded out the team. We think we have the players sufficient to compete, but we know our limitations. That’s not an excuse, however, for not having a good CONCACAF tournament.”