Suchitepéquez's Julian Lalinde (blue/white jersey) in Guatemalan league action against Comunicaciones on July 23, 2016.
MAZATENANGO, Guatemala – Despite an uneven start to the 2016 Guatemalan Apertura and an early season coaching change, a positive aura surrounds Suchitepequez ahead to its first-ever Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League match.
One of the reasons for that optimism has been the play of forward Julian Lalinde, an offseason arrival, who is the team’s top scorer in the 2016 Apertura with three goals.
In an interview with CONCACAF.com, the 30-year-old shared some of the reasons why, after so many years spent playing in South American football, he opted to join the Venados.
“The team had just become champion,” said Lalinde. “It is working out well and I had the chance to play in the [Champions League]. Playing in an international cup is always important, not only for players, but for the club as well and hopefully we can have a good [Champions League].”
Suchitepequez is locked in a difficult Group H with two teams that boast SCCL experience: Real Esteli – the Nicaraguan side, which will visit Thursday – and the USA’s FC Dallas. Lalinde, however, feels that as long as his side focuses on one game at a time, it can be successful.
“You have to go step by step and know the difficulty that is the CCL,” he stressed. “You have to try and aim to advance from the group, which is going to be hard, but nothing is impossible. Football is very equal, so you have to give everything to get past the group and go step by step.”
Even though he’s new to Guatemala, Lalinde already feels right at home in Guatemala.
“It is a very welcoming country,” commented the Uruguayan. “I think South Americans in these countries feel very comfortable for how you are treated. The truth is that I am very happy and I’m trying to take advantage of this opportunity that the club has given me and look to have a good Champions League and add another domestic title.”
The Venados currently sit 10th in the 12-team table with a 2W-1D-4L record, but Lalinde is ready to make an impact in multiple ways.
“As a striker I try to contribute goals, working not only for my own goals, but also leave spaces so teammates can convert,” the former America de Cali player finished. “But one has to adapt because, like I said, the club has been playing well the last three years and with young players. There are 18, 19, 20-year-old players. Those of us who are 30 are like grandfathers!
“It is a young team that has a lot of expectations and a lot of hunger to achieve great things.”