Resilience, effort drive Olimpia to CONCACAF glory
Olimpia players (pictured) celebrate after winning the inaugural Scotiabank CONCACAF League title on October 26, 2017, in San Jose, Costa Rica. (Photo: Imagenes en Costa Rica)

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – Olimpia knew that qualifying for the 2018 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League via the 2017 Scotiabank CONCACAF League (SCL) would anything but straightforward.

The Honduran power, however, captured the inaugural SCL title Thursday, overcoming host Santos de Guapiles 4-1 on penalty kicks, after their two-legged final ended 1-1 on aggregate.  Both sides won 1-0 on the road.

Michael Chirinos’ goal in the 21st minute at the Estadio Nacional was the lifeline Olimpia needed in order to lift its first CONCACAF trophy since the 1988 CONCACAF Champions’ Cup.

“We were in a dignified final because of the all the players’ effort on the pitch,” said Carlos Restrepo, who is in his second stint as Olimpia head coach.  “It appeared to me that from start to finish it was hard fought.  Each team tried to impose their tactics.  I feel like the one who won here were the fans because of the effort on the field of play.”

After falling narrowly in the first leg 1-0 at home, the tweaks made by Restrepo in preparation for the finale produced that needed results.  The Leones were more assertive in the attack and the defense remained tight, allowing only seven shots (one on goal).

“I think that Olimpia came to look for the game, but without getting broken down,” Restrepo finished.  “In front of us, we had a team that had made things tough for us in the first match.  The match was going to give us the guidelines and I feel that Olimpia started with a very positive attitude.  In the end, we went for the match.”

As a result, Olimpia will maintain its record of being the only team to compete in all 10 SCCL editions.