- As a player, Cordero won the 1993, 1995 and 2005 Concacaf Champions Cup with Saprissa
MIAMI, Florida – It would be difficult to find a man more associated with Costa Rican club Deportivo Saprissa than Victor Cordero.
For 20 years, from 1991 to 2011, Cordero appeared in over 500 matches in all competitions for Saprissa, many of those in a ‘Clasico’ against the club’s biggest rival, Liga Deportiva Alajuelense.
Nowadays, Cordero works as the club’s Sporting Director and ahead of Saprissa’s upcoming 2020 Scotiabank Concacaf League Final against rivals Alajuelense, Cordero sat down with Concacaf.com to provide insight from the Saprissa perspective as to what it feels like to be part of Costa Rica’s Clasico.
“One is anxious and feels a great desire, a great emotion, a great expectation, all of those feelings that have to do with an important event that is coming up,” said Cordero. “It’s a really wonderful thing and in a footballing country like this, everyone stops for a Clasico. It is a great responsibility because the whole country wants a good game, 90 minutes of sacrifice, strength, good football and giving your all. That is something that all Saprissa and Alajuelense players understand.
“Clasicos have a something in particular in which it doesn’t matter what condition the team is in when the match arrives, the conditions of a Clasico are always the same. With Saprissa we went into some Clasicos classified as the favorite, but when you are on the field, you realize it is 11 versus 11,” added Cordero.
A victory in the Final on February 3 at Alajuela’s Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto would mean Costa Rica’s most decorated club would become the first team to win the SCL twice. As a man who waged many a battle within Concacaf, Cordero understand the importance of competing and succeeding at the international level.
“I think it is one of the best ways to improve yourself, to play against top opponents. International competitions bring a culture and bring an experience that at the domestic level can’t be achieved. One ends up facing opponents who are very well prepared, opponents with different characteristics. I think that a player always seeks new challenges and tries to advance himself and not stay still. That is the great thing about being in Saprissa, because you are always in a position to play against great opponents and great players at the international level, which permits you to improve.
“You play against certain opponents away from home in adverse conditions. For example, last year Saprissa had to play a final in Honduras [against Motagua] in front of a full stadium and we played very intelligently and got a result that allowed us to win the title. Now we are on the verge of defending that title, so those types of situations help in the growth of a player,” said Cordero.
This year’s SCL Final will be different than Saprissa’s 2019 conquest with just a single leg to determine the champion. For Cordero, it is a shame that the pandemic is making for just a single leg Final and that fans won’t be able to attend such a great spectacle.
“I think the home and away leg is better because it is fairer. Each team gets to play at home, the feeling of playing in front of a full stadium surpasses expectations and we understand that our fans are the best thing about the club. It is where we feel most comfortable. And then it is always interesting to play away because that is where you can take advantage of your experience against opponents. But I think the thing that is missed the most is the fans. The game is made for the spectator. The players are the actors and they are professionals, they are there to provide a spectacle so that the people enjoy it and experience those emotions,” said Cordero.
As a player, Cordero won the 1993, 1995 and 2005 Concacaf Champions Cup with Saprissa among numerous domestic league titles. He was also part of the Saprissa team that lost the 2004 Concacaf Champions Cup Final to Alajuelense 5-1 on aggregate, with a 4-0 defeat in the second leg.
Despite that painful loss, it served as a great lesson for the following year in which Saprissa took home the crown.
“That match wasn’t a bit pretty. We drew 1-1 in the first leg and went to play the second leg at Alajuelense and I have to admit it didn’t go well for us. On the contrary, our opponents had a very good night. It’s tough to be in a final in which one team was so far superior. Usually, finals are hard fought and sadly in that Final it was Alajuelense who played well, not us, and we have to accept that on that day they were better than us on that day. That was a big blow to us at that time, but it helped us learn because the following year we came back and won it,” said Cordero.
Now more than 16 years later, Cordero is optimistic that this time in a Concacaf Final with Alaluelense, Saprissa will be the team to emerge victorious.
“It is 90 minutes to give your all from the start and I have to say that we feel like we can go to Alajuela and go toe to toe with Alajuelense. We have a lot of hope in being able to make the difference and raise the cup,” concluded Cordero.