ALAJUELA, Costa Rica – Santos de Guapiles knows that Wednesday’s first-leg meeting against host Arabe Unido in the 2017 Scotiabank CONCACAF League (SCL) semifinals will present a challenge different from the one in a preseason friendly slightly more than two months ago.
On July 4, Arabe triumphed 1-0 thanks to an Abdiel Macea goal. Little did the sides know at that time they would clash again with a berth in an international final at stake.
“I already have all of the videos of all their latest games and it is a different opponent to the one we faced in our preseason in Guapiles,” said Santos de Guapiles head coach Johnny Chaves. “It is a different opponent than [previous SCL opponent] Chorrillo because they are more tactical. I remember that they beat us 1-0 with a set piece goal.
“We are going to try to pressure them playing out of the back with transition plays. We are going to make an adjustment, but we are also going to maintain the transition game and the football that we like.”
For Santos, it has been a very intense season.
The Costa Rica outfit has already played 11 matches in just 35 days, but Chaves believes his squad has managed the workload well. In fact, he’s of the opinion that Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Carmelita in the Invierno will inject a boost of confidence.
“To not travel with a defeat is very positive,” Chaves finished. “I saw a lot of ball movement in midfield. We got back to being confident in our game. I see it as positive.”
Santos de Guapiles is the only team to reach the SCL semifinals with a perfect 4-0-0 record.