Olimpia praises Panamanian football, expects Plaza Amador test
Olimpia’s Michael Chirinos (red jersey) looks for an open teammate during a Scotiabank CONCACAF League match at Alianza in San Salvador, El Salvador, on August 17, 2017. (Photo: Salvador Melendez)
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PANAMA CITY, Panama – A pair of Panamanian clubs have reached the semifinals of the 2017 Scotiabank CONCACAF League and the achievement is drawing attention across the CONCACAF region, including from Honduran giant Olimpia.

The Leones will visit Plaza Amador -- their nicknamed namesake – in the first leg of their final-four series Thursday at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez.

“Panamanian football has evolved very well,” said Olimpia midfielder Carlos Will Mejia.  “It is strong there (at home), like us, fast and you have to take every precaution to manage getting a positive result.”

Plaza Amador and Arabe Unido’s respective progressions to the SCL semifinals mark the first time that a Panamanian club has advanced to the semifinal stage of any CONCACAF tournament.

For Mejia, the achievement is no accident.

“The best teams are remaining,” the 33-year-old commented.  “Many started the competition and now we are already in the semifinals, where Plaza Amador made it on their own merit.  We have to go in convinced of earning a great result in Panama.”

The sides have combined to concede only four goals in eight total SCL matches.  As result, Mejia believes the team that scores the first goal of the series will gain an advantage.

“He who strikes first, strikes twice, so we have to go to look for a result that guarantees us greater tranquility in the second leg,” finished the former Marathon standout.  “Bringing home a victory is most ideal, since here it will be played behind closed doors and winning [at home] guarantees us being in the final.”