Forge FC is set to host Guatemalan outfit Antigua GFC on August 1 in the CONCACAF League preliminary round, having successfully earned the “Canada 2” berth in the competition ahead of Valour FC and FC Edmonton over the course of the Spring portion of the 2019 CPL season.
The Hamilton-based outfit will then travel to Guatemala on August 8 for the return leg of this home-and-away series. Here’s a scouting report on Antigua GFC, as well as Forge’s possible Round of 16 opponents:
Antigua GFC starting XI (4-2-3-1)
The current champions of Guatemala, Antigua GFC goes into this tournament with plenty to prove against the newcomers from Canada. Having successfully captured the 2017-18 Guatemalan Liga Nacional Apertura title – posting a joint table-leading 38 points but edging Petapa on goal differential – Mauricio Tapia’s side went on to defeat CSD Municipal in the league’s playoff finals, also dispatching Coban Imperial along the way.
Los Panzas Verdes then finished fourth in the Clausura portion of the 2017-18 campaign, but failed to get past Xelaju MC in the quarterfinals.
The 2018-19 Apertura wasn’t quite as kind to Antigua GFC – the team finished sixth overall, barely qualifying for the playoffs, and was ousted by Comunicaciones in the quarterfinal stage. But Antigua GFC turned it around for the Clausura, topping the table with 41 points and winning the playoff final on May 26 against Malacateco 2-0 on aggregate.
So, Antigua GFC is no stranger to surviving the obstacles and tribulations of two-legged knockout series, and is a powerhouse in Guatemalan football. An overall fourth-placed finish in the combined table and a Clausura title for the 2018-19 season put Tapia’s side into the CONCACAF League preliminary round alongside Comunicaciones, with Guastatoya, the first overall in the combined table, booking a spot in the Round of 16.
¡NOS PREPARAMOS! ??
Nuestros jugadores regresó hoy a los entrenamientos a las 11:30 horas en el Estadio Pensativo, se hizo recuperación a los jugadores por el partido de ayer, se trabajó táctico y definición bajo la dirección técnica del profe R. Montoya. #SoyAntiguaGFCpic.twitter.com/HDaXgnyruV
Unfortunately, many of Antigua’s star players have departed the club, with top scorer Agustin Herrera, starting goalkeeper Adrian De Lemos, most consistent midfielder Jose Contreras, attacking No. 10 Alejandro Galindo, and versatile attacker Alejandro Diaz no longer suiting up for Antigua GFC.
As such, the team trotted out a makeshift lineup in the Guatemala Champions Cup to kick off the 2019-20 season, a 4-2-3-1 that featured the following players:
Luis Moran (GK)
The third ‘keeper last year, Moran is now the team’s starting option between the sticks, and looked shaky in recent Champions Cup games, allowing two goals from mistakes while attempting saves.
Cristian Jimenez (RB)
With over 200 games under his belt in the Guatemalan first division, Jimenez is a particularly versatile option, capable of bombarding down the wing but also tracking back to help defend.
Jose Pinto (CB)
Another experienced defender with over 300 appearances, the thrice-capped Guatemalan international is a ball-playing centre back, though not a particularly physical one.
Jose Mena (CB)
The Costa Rican international plays foil to Pinto, providing physical presence at centre back. However, with nine red cards to his name, including four last season, he is also a bit reckless in a tackle.
Juan Osorio (LB)
A Colombian left-back who previously played in Panama, Osorio has started 100 times in Guatemala over the last three seasons. He’s not quite as forward-going as his opposite at right-back, though.
Marco Dominguez (CDM)
A former Canadian Under-17 player who came through the Montreal Impact Academy, Dominguez has previously played for FC Montreal and FC Cincinnati and is a comfortable passer of the ball.
Pablo Mingorance (CM)
An Argentine two-way midfielder with good passing range, Mingorance offers a good mix of attacking and defending, and while he can shoot from distance, he’s also a foul threat.
Andres Lezcano (LW)
An attack-minded left midfielder with 55 goals in 316 career games, Lescano is particularly adept at shooting from distance, which means Giuliano Frano will need to keep close watch here.
Jairo Arreola (RW)
This 11-times capped Guatemalan international has played close to 500 games in his country’s first division, scoring 84 times. He’s a good passer and shooter, but struggles in 1-v-1 situations.
Edgar Pacheco (CAM)
Mexico international who has played eight seasons in Liga MX; has a strong right foot, good acceleration, and crosses regularly. He’s a pretty direct player, with 14 goals and 21 assists in Mexico.
Anllel Porras (CF)
This Costa Rican striker has scored 39 goals in 189 games, the result of his physical, bull-in-a-china-shop style of play. He’s an aerial presence but can be clumsy on the ball, too.