SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – Just because Santos de Guapiles has earned a placed in its first CONCACAF final, don’t think for a second that the Costa Rican side lacks big-game experience.
Santos, which is slated to face Olimpia in next month’s two-legged Scotiabank CONCACAF League decider, will rely on a roster filled with veteran performers possessing abundant familiarity with international competitions and domestic finals.
“We have players with experience in these types of matches because they have played finals,” said Santos head coach Johnny Chaves. “We already have a game plan and style. The mental part is important. If we fall into the emotional part, we won’t come out well. It is a final in which we need that experience.”
Members of that experienced contingent include:
Kenny Cunningham, Midfielder/Forward (32)
- played in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League (SSCL) with Herediano (2015/16) and in the Copa Libertadores (The Strongest: 2013)
Cristhian Lagos, Forward (33)
- played in five SCCL editions with three different teams (Herediano, Alajuelense, Brujas), scoring two goals
Juan Diego Madrigal, Defender (30)
- earned seven caps for Costa Rica, including two in the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup and four with the 2013 Copa Centroamericana championship-winning squad
That trio, along with the rest of the Santos squad, will be put to the test by a team seeking to qualify for a 10th straight SCCL -- Honduras’ Olimpia.
Chaves is eager to start doing the homework necessary in preparation for the first leg on October 19 at the Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano in San Pedto Sula, Honduras.
“[Olimpia] is a team with a lot of power,” the 56-year-old Chaves finished. “They are more than Carlo Costly. They have a style. (Head coach Carlos) Restrepo made them champions before. Now begins the studying. We have a program that gives us a lot of videos and stats of our opponents. I saw them against (El Salvador’s) Alianza in the two matches. We should take away from them where they are strong.”
Santos will host the second leg on October 26 at the Estadio Nacional in San Jose, Costa Rica.