Alpha United got their CONCACAF Champions League campaign off to the worst possible start, narrowly going down to Club Deportivo Olimpia of Honduras by a 1-0 margin yesterday at the National Stadium Providence.
Albert Elis separated the two sides with a fortuitous 17th minute conversion. Winners of the event twice in the year of 1972 and 1988 respectively, the visitors started the opening half the brighter of the two sides and silenced the partisan crowd through Elis.
Lurking within the centre of the penalty area, Elis would inexplicably direct an initial headed attempt from the left side of the area into the lower right hand corner of the net, following a right sided cross.
Galvanized by their recent concession, the local side should have leveled the score line two minutes later through a Kithson Bain effort.
Racing into the right side of the area after playing a cheeky one-two pass combination with Gregory Richardson, the Grenadian international would see his powerful effort cannoning off the right upright, much to the dismay of the large gathering.
The equalizer would continue to evade the Guyanese unit as a powerful left footed Richardson strike from the just outside the centre of the area in the 30th minute, flew narrowly wide of the sneaking into the lower right hand corner.
Content to hold onto their lead following a slow start to the second period, Olimpia almost surrendered their advantage as Alpha fashioned the best chance of the period through a 62nd minute Aldair Paredes strike.
Picking up the ball 30 yards from the goal in the centre of the park, the diminutive box-box midfielder would unleash a thunderous left footed screamer that forced custodian Gerson Argueta into an acrobatic save, tipping the resulting danger over the crossbar.
Utilizing a translator, Coach of the winning side, Hector Vargas during a post-match press conference said “Alpha is a very good side with very fast players. They played very well but I am happy to get the result”.
He further said “It was an evenly contested match and we scored and that is the result of the game. The Alpha team is strong and we will approach the return leg with more caution. This is the champions’ league and they are only good teams inside”.
Losing coach Wayne Dover said “I am disappointed we didn’t get the result. We know that the team that makes the least mistakes does comes out on top. We made a mistake and after 90 minutes the result says 1-0 Olimpia”.
Dover further said “We will try our best to regroup and try to convert our chances in the next game. It will be like final because only one team coming out of the group. Initially they were some problems with our plan to keep the team at bay. We adjusted and put some pressure on them in the second half”.
Questioned about the area that the team will need to improve on going into their second matchup, Dover said “We need to work on finishing, we created two clear cut chances but unfortunately we did not convert”.
With the win, Olimpia now sit at the top of the group with three points. Alpha sit in the cellar position and will now faceoff with USA’s Portland Timbers at the same venue from August 19th.
The local side will then engage Olimpia on August 28th in the return leg while they lock horns with Portland Timbers on September 23rd in their final away fixture.
Winner of the tournament will earn the opportunity to represent the region in the FIFA Club World Club. Mexico’s Cruz Azul is the event’s defending champions.
Alpha United qualified for the 2014/2015 CONCACAF Champions League following group victories over Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago champions Harbour View and Defence Force respectively in their CFU qualification playoff tournament.