Through SCL, Panamanian football positioned to take next step

Plaza Amador’s Ernesto Sinclair (blue jersey) tries elude a Portmore United defender during their Scotiabank CONCACAF League match on August 9, 2017, in Panama City, Panama. (Photo: Israel Zapateiro)

PANAMA CITY, Panama – In CONCACAF’s 56-year history, no team from Panama had reached the semifinals of a confederation club competition.

Until now, that is.

Both Arabe Unido and Plaza Amador are among the final four teams in the first-ever Scotiabank CONCACAF League.  Arabe hosts Santos de Guapiles in the first leg of their series Wednesday at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez, while Plaza will welcome Olimpia to the same venue a day later.

The possibility of having a Panamanian side or two in the final represents a significant achievement to Plaza Amador head coach Jair Palacios.

“I believe that it would be very important for Panamanian football,” said the 48-year-old Colombian.  “The reality is that our football continues to grow a lot.”

Midfielder Richard Rodriguez, who competed for San Francisco FC in the 2015/16 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League, echoed his coach’s sentiments.

“It is a motivation that we are among the last four teams in an international tournament,” the 21-year-old commented.  “We have another match now and we have to get a result at home.”

Obtaining that result against one of region’s legendary sides will not be easy.  Olimpia has won 30 Honduran championships and two CONCACAF club titles.  It is attempting to become the only team to appear in all 10 ten editions of the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League (SCCL).

“It (Olimpia) is a team with a lot of history in Central America and Honduran football,” concluded Palacios.  “It has six Honduras national team players and comes in off a comeback win against Alianza at home.  They have top players.”

For its part, Arabe Unido has reached the SCCL quarterfinals three times, including the 2016/17 edition, ultimately falling 5-2 on aggregate to FC Dallas.


(1990-present day)

1993: First appearance in CONCACAF Gold Cup

2003: First appearance in FIFA U-20 World Cup

2005: CONCACAF Gold Cup runner-up

2007: CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinalist

2009: Copa Centroamericana champion; CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinalist

2011: First appearance in FIFA U-17 World Cup; CONCACAF Gold Cup third place

2012: First appearance in FIFA Futsal World Cup

2013: CONCACAF Gold Cup runner-up

2015: CONCACAF Gold Cup third place

2016: CONCACAF Futsal Championship runner-up

2017: CONCACAF Beach Soccer Championship champion; First appearance in FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup; CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinalist


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