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Real Esteli, Alajuelense seek regional glory as Final starts


The long journey to the 2023 Concacaf Central American Cup Final has reached its concluding stages, as Real Esteli of Nicaragua host Costa Rica’s Alajuelense in the first leg of the Final on Tuesday night at the Estadio Independencia in Esteli, Nicaragua.

Both teams have overcome challenges to reach this point. Real Esteli won their first three matches of the group stage, including a victory against 2022 Concacaf League champions Olimpia of Honduras, and then took out another Central American giant, Saprissa of Costa Rica, in the quarterfinals.

That was followed by a semifinal triumph over CA Independiente of Panama to punch their Final ticket.

Real Esteli have been paced by different heroes throughout the tournament, with Harold Medina and Juan Barrera combining for three goals in the group stage, Bancy Hernandez scoring a crucial goal in the quarterfinal and then Abel Mendez tallying a goal and supplying two assists in the semifinals.

Alajuelense have gotten big-time performances as well, with Aaron Suarez and Johan Venegas scoring four and three goals, respectively.

The Ticos were the only club to have gone through the group stage with a perfect four wins from four matches and then after topping fellow Costa Rican club Cartagines in the quarterfinals, they got a last-minute goal from veteran playmaker Joel Campbell to force a penalty shootout in the semifinals with another Costa Rican side, Herediano, and ultimately winning 5-4 in spot kicks.

Match Officials Real Esteli vs Alajuelense

While this marks Real Esteli’s first ever Concacaf Final, Alajuelense are playing in a Concacaf final for the second straight year after narrowly falling to Olimpia in the 2022 Concacaf League Final.

A strong result on Tuesday for either side means that they are one step closer to Concacaf glory.

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