TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – On Thursday night at the Estadio Nacional in San Jose, Costa Rica, visiting Olimpia will attempt to achieve something in the inaugural Scotiabank CONCACAF League that it never did in nine Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League (SCCL) appearances: advance from a two-leg series.
The Lions were eliminated in each of the four SCCL knockout series (two in the preliminary round and two in the quarterfinals) they contested. That’s why their 2-0 lead heading into the second leg of the Round of 16 pairing against Alajuelense provides no sense of comfort.
"We know that it will be a very intense match with a good team that has a need now, with the work that it has been doing, to achieve good results,” said Olimpia head coach Carlos Restrepo. “We are thinking of putting forward a game with the 2-0 advantage that we have and looking at the most appropriate way to achieve the result we need "
Olimpia jumped out to an early lead in the first leg thanks to Carlo Costly’s second-minute goal, while Kevin Alvarez added to the cushion to 2-0 with a header in the 25th minute.
Restrepo, though, knows it will be difficult to shutout Alajuelense once again. In two Costa Rica Invierno outings, the Manudos have already struck for five goals.
"[Alajuelense], at home, has a lot of initiative and more so now because they need a result,” the 56-year-old Colombian remarked. “We logically go in expecting an Alajuelense that goes to the front. We have to be attentive in order to balance them…with the ball and to attack in the precise moments.”
One question mark for Olimpia is Costly’s availability. The 35-year-old experienced hamstring trouble in the first leg and did not play in a 1-0 win over Honduras Progreso in the Honduran Apertura on Sunday.
"We are going to wait until the last moment (to make a decision),” finished Restrepo in regard to his star striker. “He finished with a hamstring fatigue in the first leg and we will see how he evolves.”