TIBAS, Costa Rica – Deportivo Saprissa MF Michael Barrantes may be 36 years old, but the feeling he gets playing in a Concacaf final makes him feel like a first-year player again.
“The sensation of playing a final is always the same, you have to enjoy it, feel the passion and always go out to try to win,” said Barrantes in an exclusive interview with Concacaf.com.
Barrantes will experience that once again on Thursday night in the first leg of the 2019 Scotiabank Concacaf League Final versus Honduran club Motagua.
Barrantes just so happens to know what it is like to face Motagua in a Concacaf final. Twelve years ago in the 2007 UNCAF Interclub Cup, Barrantes was part of the Saprissa team that fell 2-1 on aggregate to Motagua in the Final. The memory of that Final is still fresh in his mind.
“That was a hard-fought series. They were two intense games and it was our turn to lose, but those are important experiences and in football there is always a rematch and we have that now,” said Barrantes.
Saprissa reached the SCL Final after an epic 4-1 win over Olimpia in the semifinal second leg, a performance the Tico club will try to repeat on Thursday.
“Finals are not played every day, they are intense games, so we have to play a good match and get the advantage here at home. The Olimpia game gives us an injection of confidence to give the best of ourselves,” said Barrantes.
While Saprissa has a number of veteran players like Barrantes, there is also a nice blend of youth, including 17-year-old FW Manfred Ugalde, who has plenty of promise.
“This is a great experience for any young player. Manfred has the capacity to transcend at the international level and this Final is a chance for him to grow as a player,” said Barrantes.
With so many big matches under his belt, both at the club and national team level, Barrantes has seen how things have evolved within the Concacaf region and credits the Confederation for giving more clubs the opportunity to compete at such a high international level in the SCL.
“I think it is a tournament that makes teams more competitive and gives them international experience. It helped us qualify for the Champions League, which is the most important of all, and it offers all clubs the chance to grow more, which is good,” concluded Barrantes.