For the first time ever Olimpia won through a two-legged knock-out tie in the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) when toppling MLS Cup champions Seattle Sounders last month.
But don’t expect Head Coach Pedro Troglio (54) to content himself with that achievement. The vastly experienced Argentinian manager whose CV includes work in his home country, Paraguay, Peru and now Honduras, believes that his team can become the first from the Central American country to each the CCL semi-finals.
“This is a young team, but I have a lot of faith. I had faith before the Seattle series and I have faith for this match. We have to play, we know we face a great opponent, but I have a lot of faith that we can advance,” said Troglio in Monday’s pre-match press conference.
“Coming here from Argentina and knowing that for Central American teams reaching the next round is always difficult, so for me it was great to overcome the challenge of reaching the quarterfinals. But we don’t want to settle; we want to get to the semifinals. It means a lot to me because it was one of the objectives that we had, which was to be champion of Honduras and to get as far as we could in this tournament.”
Winning the 2019 Clausura brought Olimpia, the country’s biggest club, their first title in over three years. Add to that the success over Seattle and you can easily see why Troglio is popular right now amongst Olimpia fans.
Pedro Troglio was born in Lujan in the Province of Buenos Aires and counts amongst the highlights of a playing career, a World Cup Final appearance, four seasons in Serie A with Verona, Lazio and Ascoli, and becoming the first-ever Argentinian player to have his number retired when Gimnasia La Plata hung his #21 shirt up in 2006.
He concluded his playing days in Argentina with little fourth division club Villa Dalmine amongst some other ‘name’ players including former international team-mate Jose Basualdo.
Troglio’s coaching career has followed a fluctuating trajectory, the highlights include joining a struggling Gimnasia mid-season in 2005 and keeping them in Argentina’s Primera Division, before steering them to a best-equalling 2nd place in the following season’s Apertura and winning Paraguay’s Campeonato Apertura with Cerro Porteño in 2009.
But there were low points too. After Gimnasia’s fortunes plummeted Troglio resigned in April 2007, although he remained popular with the club’s supporters, who preferred to lay blame at the door of club president, Juan Jose Munoz.
He was hired to replace Argentinian World Cup winner Jorge Burrachaga at Independiente in 2007, but by March the following year the dreaded axe had fallen after some erratic form.
After success in Paraguay, Argentinos Juniors came calling in 2010 and again Troglio was on his way back to Argentina. Things didn’t work out and just over a year later he stepped down.
His longest spell in management with one club followed when he moved ‘back home’ to Gimnasia in 2011. His second spell there would last 5 years, and indeed he assumed the role for a third time (2018/19), taking his combined years of service at the Buenos Aires club to 13 (8 as coach).
Whether Mr Gimnasia can help Olimpia rise to meet his lofty expectations and enter further unchartered territory, depends a lot on events unfolding at Stade Olympique this evening.
An away goal will have the 21-times capped Argentinian dreaming of more glory for the giant of Honduran football, but a comprehensive defeat will keep their minnow-status on the international stage in tact.