TIJUANA, Mexico – With only a few days to kick-off, Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente are ready to take on Club Santos Laguna this Sunday at Caliente stadium here during the fourth week of the Clausura 2012. Members of the Aztec canine squad took a moment to talk to the media about their upcoming game after Thursday’s practice.
“It’s going to be an even game as we are facing them at the beginning of the tournament,” said Fernando Arce, Xolos midfielder who began his career with Santos. “Tijuana has played well. We’ve earned points in important games both home and away. Now we face Santos, a team that is also doing well and has players who can make a difference.”
This weekend’s match is one to view as both teams currently share the top of the league table with Toluca. Xolos is second and Santos third, with one goal making the difference in their position.
Santos is one of the Mexican league’s top performers in recent years. The Laguneros ended last season in second place behind Tigres UANL. They also count with important players. Striker Oribe Peralta is dangerous up front for Coach Benjamin Galindo’s team. Peralta scored 10 goals last season missing the goal scoring title by one. He was out two weeks for national team duty during the Pan-American games.
The visiting side also includes Oswaldo Sanchez, the highly experienced Mexican national team goalkeeper who participated during the FIFA World Cup, Germany 2006. Sanchez joined Santos shortly after the World Cup and has led them to a league title and three 2nd place finishes.
“Santos is the type of team that will try to impose their game on the field,” said Joe Corona, who recently returned from the U.S. after participating in the U-23 pre-Olympic qualification team camp. “Teams and players try to give their best at the beginning of the tournament, as they are vying for a position on the first team. So I have a feeling they will try to set conditions on the field.”
Last season Xolos won their first game in the Mexican Primera 3-1 against Santos at the Territorio Santos Modelo stadium in Torreon, Mexico. Xolos were still under coach Joaquin Del Olmo at the time, while Santos had Argentine Diego Cocca calling the shots. Since then both teams have had a significant improvement in their game.
Xolos Coach Antonio Mohamed stated that his team needs to continue their intensity on the field if they want to keep their current momentum going. The border town club wants to remain unbeaten this season and call on their fans to apply pressure on their rival.
“It’s going to be a good game,” concluded Arce. “We want the fans to do their part and create pressure then we can do our part and earn the three points at the end of the match.”
Tijuana begins this round clear of the relegation position with Atlas and Queretaro as padding between them and the final spot. If the league concluded at the end of this week, Estudiantes Tecos UAG would relegate to the Primera A.