TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras– There have been 16 all-time meetings between Honduran club Motagua FC and Costa Rica’s Deportivo Saprissa and just one victory for the Catracho club.
Yet it was a triumph that came when the stakes were incredibly high: in the second leg of the 2007 Torneo de Clubes UNCAF Final when Ramon Maradiaga’s Motagua defeated Saprissa 1-0 on a goal from Jocimar to win the series 2-1 on aggregate.
More than 12 years later the two clubs are squaring off in the 2019 Scotiabank Concacaf League Final in which Saprissa hold a 1-0 advantage heading into Tuesday’s second leg in Tegucigalpa. For Maradiaga, the memories of that epic final are still very fresh in his mind.
“We put together a team that had the consolidation of a tactical idea and a very defined playing style. I revised what was my experience in Guatemala [with the national team] and brought in some reinforcements, especially some foreign players like Jocimar who scored that winning goal,” said Maradiaga in an exclusive interview with Concacaf.com
“It was an even series. We are all aware of what Saprissa represents in Central America and in Concacaf and faced players of great status. The team went out aware of what we were playing for and who we were playing and how we were going to face them. We managed to get the draw [in the first leg] which was important then for the return leg,” added Maradiaga.
The veteran Honduran coach noted that from back to front Saprissa is strong, but that if Motagua can carry out their game plan, they can put themselves in a position to win.
“Saprissa have players with a lot of experience, like [Randall] Leal on the left and [Cristian] Bolanos on the right. They have players who are very decisive and effective in the final third, like Johan Venegas and the young player Manfred Ugalde. They need to cut off that link between Michael Barrantes and Marvin Angulo, who are the two players that work the ball from out of the back. Without question they need to harass anytime [Saprissa] have the ball,” said Maradiaga.
While Saprissa drew 1-1 at Herediano in the Costa Rican semifinals on Saturday, Motagua earned a 2-1 win at Marathon. Maradiaga believes those results should help both teams on Tuesday.
“The ideal thing for the two was not to lose. In Motagua’s case, they won and Saprissa drew. I think the biggest difference will be seen in the attitude of the players and how they enter the match. In both cases it will help the players have the right attitude especially at the crucial moments of the match and will help control themselves,” concluded Maradiaga.