Head coach Diego Alonso (pictured) has Pachuca in the 2016/17 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League final and on pace for a spot in the 2017 Liga MX Clausura playoffs . (Photo: Mexsport)
GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Diego Alonso had a very good reason as to why he rested seven of Pachuca’s usual starters in a 1-0 Liga MX Clausura loss at Atlas on Saturday.
With the second leg of the 2016/17 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League set for Wednesday -- and the Tuzos in a position to claim the title after last week’s 1-1 draw against host Tigres -- the Uruguayan head coach made success in that competition the priority.
“We understood -- not just the coaching staff -- the relevance of today’s match, but on Wednesday we have a match to battle for the [SCCL], where we have a 50 percent chance of winning the crown,” Alosno said after the game. “We decided to give rest to some players to have them fresh for Wednesday.
“If we had gotten points in the previous [Liga MX] matches, we would not be in this situation. We have to have enough calm to understand that we should adjust some things to be able to grow.”
Currently occupying eighth place in the Clausura, Alonso elected to rest defenders Omar Gonzalez, Oscar Murillo and Victor Guzman; midfielders Raul Lopez, Erick Gutierrez and Jonathan Urretaviscaya, as well forward Franco Jara.
Yet Alonso bristled at the notion that Pachuca was throwing in the towel in Liga MX play and instead underlined how special it would be for the club to reach the FIFA Club World Cup.
“We are not giving up anything,” he finished. “Maybe it looked like it today, but Wednesday’s match is just one and in the league we have two more chances and we already had 14 to do a good job. Winning CONCACAF should be one of the biggest rewards. Being able to go to play against the world’s elite should be marvelous.”
Pachuca has competed in three previous Club World Cups (2007, 2008, 2010), finishing as high as fourth place once.