SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – Santos de Guapiles’ 2017 Scotiabank CONCACAF League campaign has been marked by a quiet confidence.
The Costa Rican side has steadily gone about its business, overcoming opponents with a strong defense (three goals conceded in seven games) and an opportunistic attack (six of seven games decided by one goal or fewer).
With that in mind, head coach Johnny Chaves expects the usual balanced and composed performance from his men on Thursday night, when they take a 1-0 lead into the second leg of the final against visiting Olimpia at the Estadio Nacional in San Jose, Costa Rica.
“In the first match, it surprised me to see the team so calm,” Chaves said at Wednesday’s pre-match press conference. “There were no shouts or anything. We were satisfied about the result, but we know that there is still the second round to go.
“The team emanates confidence. There are no excesses and that speaks to the maturity that they have been acquiring.”
With a win or a draw, Santos would claim its first-ever major trophy and a berth in the 2018 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League.
Before thoughts of CONCACAF glory can be entertained, however, Santos must first contain a dangerous Olimpia side that boasts two of the tournament’s top three scorers -- leading scorer Roger Rojas (5 goals) and joint-second Carlo Costly (4 goals).
“We don’t want to be passive and then that Olimpia grows,” finished Chaves. “We are going to be strategic. Their coach’s vision is to attack at the opportune moment. It will be a hard-fought match. Their start is going to be strong and we can’t let them grow. We should take the initiative, not defending them, but attacking them.”
Santos has posted clean sheets in its last five SCL outings, while Olimpia has a tournament-high 14 goals.