MIAMI, Florida – Any time Motagua and Olimpia clash heads in Honduran football, bragging rights in the capital city of Tegucigalpa and the entire country are on the line.
The two most decorated teams in Honduras have one of the most storied rivalries in international football, and now that rivalry will be played out under the bright lights of the Scotiabank Concacaf League when the two battle in the 2020 SCL quarterfinals on December 2.
Adding to the intense environment will be that a place in the 2021 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League will also be at stake. For Motagua MF Hector Castellanos, it has all the makings for an epic match of football.
“I think it is going to be massive, one of the most interesting we could have played. I don’t know if there has ever been a Motagua-Olimpia clasico in a Concacaf game before and in addition we are playing for a Champions League spot. All those ingredients should make for an intense match,” said Castellano in an exclusive interview with Concacaf.com.
“Pride is also at stake in the city, in the country. Both teams are good, both have strong squads. It will be a great match. It is too bad there won’t be fans, but hopefully it ends after 90 minutes and the fans don’t suffer very much! Neither team wants to give an inch and lose,” added Castellanos.
It has already been a dramatic 2020 SCL for Motagua. In the Preliminary Round, the Catracho club rallied from a two-goal second half deficit against Guatemala’s Comunicaciones to force a penalty shootout that would end up lasting 18 rounds and saw Motagua emerge victorious, 15-14.
“We were down 2-0 at home to Comunicaciones, but we have a fighting spirit in that we never give up. They scored two goals on us, but we told ourselves to keep going, that we could do it, never throw in the towel. In the penalty shootout the mental strength that the team had was incredible.
“It was very nerve-wracking because when you are after the first five penalties, it’s sudden death. There’s a lot of pressure. But once we won and were back in the locker room, we were all celebrating, we played traditional Honduran music, spraying water everywhere and celebrating because we all did a great job,” said Castellanos.
There were more heart-stopping moments to come in the Round of 16 against Alianza of El Salvador. Down 1-0 in second half stoppage time, Motagua needed a miracle, and Castellanos answered with a sensational strike that forced another penalty shootout, which ended with another Motagua win.
“In the Alianza match we felt like we were playing well. I think if we look back on all our scoring chances, we had so many clear ones, so being behind in that game was tough. We had clear scoring chances, I can think of three or four, so in the match you are thinking about that. But I would highlight the defiance of the team, we were playing with intensity in midfield and put pressure on them.
“On the goal I received a pass from Matias Galvaliz, made a move, played a pass to myself, left behind a defender, advanced further and shot toward goal. It was a huge joy to score,” said Castellanos.
Having been with Motagua since 2015, Castellanos has experienced plenty of highs and lows with the team, but he believes that cohesion and continuity has enabled Motagua to be so resilient in this year’s SCL.
“The coaching staff instills that spirit in us, to be mentally strong, to take advantage of moments in matches, play a practical, simple football but never give up on any ball. It is always with a lot of sacrifice. That is a non-negotiable. We have been working together six years. We’ve won important things and also lost together and that experience has helped us, including two SCL finals, so we hope the third time will be a charm,” said Castellanos.
In his time with Motagua, Castellanos has enjoyed playing in the Concacaf spotlight, with four appearances in the SCCL and 10 matches played in the SCL. There is just something about Concacaf matches that gives Castellanos an extra spark.
“Concacaf games motivate more. You face good teams, good players. The atmosphere that is generated with Concacaf games is different. As a player it is motivating and you want to be in the starting XI and be a part of those matches. They are also a good showcase and one as a player always wants to grow. We have that other ingredient in that we’ve lost two finals and we are seeking that objective. We believe in it and we want to play the SCCL because those are wonderful matches, matches to enjoy,” concluded Castellanos.