MIAMI, Florida – When Honduran club CD Olimpia take the field in the Scotiabank Concacaf League, the players fully understand the responsibility they have playing in the tournament.
Olimpia were winners of the inaugural SCL in 2017, a feat that will forever live in the Concacaf history books, and now the 2020 team is looking to add another chapter by becoming the first team to win two SCLs.
“To be in the biggest club in Central America is very important for a player. We know that it is demanding of us, we know that we have to give it our all in every match, show our virtues and our talent, so for the club it would be a privilege to win the competition. That’s what we are working for, we want to have a strong approach in all of the competitions that we are in,” said Olimpia MF Michaell Chirinos in an exclusive interview with Concacaf.com.
“We as players prepare ourselves for the biggest tournaments and in this case, this tournament is very special to us. We have done things well and achieved great things in this tournament, so for us as players it is very important. The biggest clubs in the Central American region are in it and that means we have to give extra and commit fewer errors to reach the next phase,” added Chirinos.
Olimpia’s quest for the 2020 SCL crown started off with a bang in the Round of 16 in a 6-0 win over Nicaragua’s Managua FC in which Chirinos scored a goal and provided three assists.
“It was important to start off on the right foot. We achieved that with an advantage of six goals. In our league play we had been lacking goals, so it was good to get that confidence for what is coming up soon and start the tournament off on the right foot. Scoring a goal in a Concacaf game is very important for an attacking player. You get confidence from it and the entire team gets confidence from it, so we will try to keep working and score more goals,” said Chirinos.
In his career, the 25-year-old has already appeared in 17 Concacaf matches and has scored six goals. Suffice to say, there is just something about the bright lights of Concacaf that gives Chirinos an extra boost.
“I love the atmosphere of Concacaf games. The fans get excited hearing the Concacaf anthem, they demand more from us. As a player, it is important to have the adrenaline to play in a big tournament and be recognized for scoring a goal or contributing an assist. In addition, a player can show the capabilities he has,” said Chirinos.
There will perhaps be no bigger spotlight in the country of Honduras than on December 2 when Olimpia clash with long-time rivals Motagua in the SCL quarterfinals in which a berth in the 2021 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League will be at stake.
“They are going to be a hard opponent just like they have been in our league. We know each other very well and the team that makes fewer errors will take the match. We are working hard to strengthen our weaknesses and be decisive when the time comes. We’re aware that we have to give everything on the field and we will try to reach the next round.
“The fans are talking about the game a lot. One gets used to the importance of the tournament and the match, and most of all because it is a long-time rival here in Honduras,” said Chirinos.
Guiding the way for Olimpia since 2019 has been Argentine manager Pedro Troglio. A successful manager back in his native country, Troglio took the reins of the historic Honduran club and led them to a semifinal finish in the 2019 SCL.
For a player like Chirinos, every day spent with Troglio on the training field has been beneficial.
“Pedro is a great person, very friendly and very dedicated to his profession. He’s a coach that likes to see a player give his all, even if you come on just as a substitute for the final 20 minutes. He wants to see you running, giving your maximum effort on every ball. He focuses on small details and demands the same of us,” said Chirinos.
Olimpia are in the rare position that they could pull of an unprecedented Concacaf double before year’s end. In addition to the 2020 SCL, the Catracho club is alive and well in the 2020 SCCL, holding a 2-1 aggregate lead in the quarterfinals over the Montreal Impact. With the 2020 SCCL set to resume next month, Chirinos says that Olimpia have their sights set on making history by becoming the first Olimpia team to reach a SCCL semifinal.
“We as a club, as a team, we have talked about the importance of that match. We are a step away from making history, of going further in the tournament than we ever have, so for a player there is no greater motivation than that. We respect any and all teams that we play against, so we are going to give it our all to reach the next stage. We know that it is going to be difficult, but that’s how matches are at that level,” concluded Chirinos.