Pachuca goalkeeper Alfonso Blanco (pictured) has played in all eight of Pachuca's matches through the semifinals of the 2016/17 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League final. (Photo: Mexsport)
SAN NICOLAS DE LOS GARZA, Mexico – The thought of playing in a FIFA Club World Cup (FCWC) is a powerful motivator for Pachuca ahead of Tuesday’s Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League final, first leg at Tigres.
The Tuzos last featured in the FCWC in 2010, when they finished fifth, eight months after claiming their first ever SCCL title and fourth CONCACAF crown overall.
Now with a chance to reach the 2017 edition in the United Arab Emirates, Pachuca doesn’t plan on holding back against a fellow Liga MX side.
“It is a final, we will look to win it obviously because we want that ticket to the Club World Cup and we are going to do everything possible to get it,” said Pachuca goalkeeper Alfonso Blanco in a press conference Monday.
Franco Jara, who is a three-way tie for second on the 2016/17 SCCL scoring chart with five goals, echoed Blanco’s sentiments. He referred back happily to how Pachuca claimed the 2016 Liga MX Clausura crown against Monterrey – Tigres’ archrival -- as a source of inspiration.
“It’s a Champions League that can take you to the Club World Cup, which is very important,” Jara said. “Hopefully we can have that nice memory we had here in Monterrey with that final that we won, but matches are different. You have to play them and think about the return leg as well.”
Awaiting Pachuca is a red-hot Tigres team that has found the back of the net seven times over the course of two consecutive Clausura wins. The Tuzos, though, are taking confidence from a defense that has posted three shutouts in its last four Liga MX outings.
“We have to be alert,” noted Blanco. “In the defensive zone, we have been a team that has performed well, no more so than in this tournament. It has spent a long time being solid in the back.”
Shutting down the likes of international stars such as France international Andre-Pierre Giganc and Chile’s Eduardo Vargas won’t be an easy task, but Blanco is confident in his teammates.
“We don’t have as many big names as Tigres, but we have known how to play together as a team and that has brought us to this final,” he concluded.