Head coach Albert Roca (pictured) guided El Salvador to a berth in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup. (Photo: Mexsport)
ESTELI, Nicaragua – Following El Salvador’s 2-0 victory over host Nicaragua in a friendly on Tuesday, head coach Albert Roca stated his belief that the team is moving in the right direction.
And he certainly has crafted a body of work in support of such an assertion.
Before the Spaniard’s arrival in May, the Cuscatlecos had not played a match in nearly a year. Since then, they have competed in 11 games (including five against 2014 FIFA World Cup participants), finishing the 2014 campaign with four wins and seven losses. A place in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup was also sealed thanks to a fourth-place finish in the Central American Cup.
“It is another friendly in our journey,” said Roca after the triumph at the Estadio Independencia. “After six months we are happy with the journey we are taking, despite the results, I believe we are growing.”
The former Barcelona assistant was also quick to praise Nicaragua, which was playing for the first time under interim head coach Javier Londoño.
“Today has been a tough match,” expressed the 52-year-old. “Nicaragua’s football has grown a lot and I feel that they will be fighting to be on the next level with us. They played toe-to-toe. We imposed ourselves with more goal chances, the ones that we finished, but in many stretches of the match we struggled.”
Roca was quick to praise the performance of his defense, which had conceded 11 goals in its previous three outings.
“It could be seen that our defense allowed few concessions,” he noted. “After, we had to adjust our markings, but we did not struggle like in previous matches. The team knew to be in the moment including in the second half, with the score already in our favor, knowing to touch the ball and playing the game we needed to play and I am happy with that progress.”
The Salvadorans will not return to action until next year and Roca is already looking forward to the Gold Cup.
“I value positively this plan because what we have done has been good,” concluded Roca. “Gold Cup qualification was attained and now we look ahead, continue learning with these friendlies and be in good form heading into the Gold Cup.”