'There is warrior DNA,' says Eduardo Fentanes of Santos Laguna's chances in the Liguilla.
Eduardo Fentanes on the trip of Santos Laguna in the Liguilla. Sergio Mejia/GettyImages
Santos Laguna is competing for a spot in the Liguilla semifinals after a dominant performance in the 2022 Liga MX Apertura.
The squad lost 4-3 to Toluca in the first leg of their quarterfinal matchup, thanks to a last-second penalty by goalkeeper Tiago Volpi.
The first half witnessed four goals between the two clubs, establishing the encounter as one of the most tense of the Liguilla thus far. Though Santos added a third in the second half, it was a 92nd-minute penalty by Volpi that clinched the game, after a foul by Juan Brunetta inside the area set up the spectacular effort.
Laguna Santos Head coach Eduardo Fentanes said that his team departed Estadio Nemesio Dez disappointed but not defeated.
"Look, I enjoyed [their post-game attitude because I saw strength and well-focused wrath." I noticed heads lifted, eyes ablaze. "We can,' and 'it will come out,' were loud voices. "I mentioned at the press conference that if the game was played on Friday, we would be ready," he told 90min exclusively.
"It was encouraging to witness that attitude." It's preferable than witnessing a depressed or dejected dressing room in the middle of a series. I saw them clearly wounded, because losing always hurts, but I also saw them blazing and enraged in a positive way."
Despite the score, Fentanes believes his team can come back stronger.
"Rising from adversity is a trait of our squad; it's something we've demonstrated even in prior tournaments." For example, in our first encounter, we were behind 0-2 at home to Monterrey after 20 minutes, but we rallied up and won," Fentanes explained in an exclusive interview with 90min.
"The players are clearly in 'Modo Revancha,' a notion we've been working with during the Apertura competition." The guys are experiencing it firsthand. Hunger, pride, and warrior DNA are all present."
Santos Laguna will now host Toluca in the series' second leg on Sunday at the TSM Stadium. The squad has a fantastic home record of 8W-0L-1D, making them one of just three teams to remain unbeaten in their stadium this season, along with Club America and Monterrey.
Given their good record in Torreon and "warrior" mindset, Fentanes believes Santos Laguna could be considered a championship contender.
"Without a doubt [we remain one of the favorites for the crown.]" It's only one goal difference, but it's half the game. We had already defeated two in half the time. We were really powerful at home since we were the greatest local. That inspires confidence in our ability to reverse it. I recognize that we must go out and execute it well, not because it has been done well throughout the tournament. If we are able to exercise that locality again, we can come out ahead and so remain championship candidates."
Santos Laguna has won the league championship six times, most recently in the 2018 Clausura season. However, the squad is hoping for a seven in "recognition of everyone's efforts" this season.
"It would be a significant accomplishment, a reward for a lot of hard effort." I'm not referring to my work, but to the day-to-day of the players and the entire coaching staff, who put a lot of professionalism and enthusiasm into it. They work many hours outside the club, and it would be a tremendous and fair acknowledgement of their efforts, just like the more than 150 individuals who work at the club," said Fentanes.
"That's what we hope for." It would be a wonderful way to recognize everyone's efforts. I am the project's public face, but it is the result of many people's efforts, beginning with the players. Being league winner would be a dream come true."