Hamilton’s Forge FC is headed to Honduras for another attempt to secure a berth in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League, the confederation’s top-tier club competition.
The Canadian Premier League champion plays CD Marathon in a play-in match next week. Both teams lost their quarter-finals games on Tuesday in the CONCACAF League, a 22-team feeder tournament that sends six teams to the elite Champions League.
Date and venue in Honduras have yet to be announced.
Forge lost a penalty shootout to Haiti’s Arcahei FC following a 1-1 tie in regulation time in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Marathon was beaten 2-0 by Costa Rica’s Deportivo Saprissa, the defending CONCACAF League champion, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
Marathon will be a formidable opponent. Founded in 1925, it currently tops its group in the Honduran Premier Division at 7-3-2.
Forge, meanwhile, has played just three times since winning the Island Games, which represented the CPL’s truncated season, on Sept. 19 in Charlottetown.
Forge, which has already posted road victories in Panama and El Salvador in its tournament run, is bidding to become the first CPL team to qualify for the Champions League. Marathon reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League in 2009 and 2010.
The four CONCACAF League quarter-final winners qualify directly for the Champions League while the losing quarter-finalists compete in single-leg play-in games with the two winners also qualifying.
The other play-in match will feature the losers of Wednesday’s two remaining CONCACAF League quarter-finals: Costa Rica’s Alajuelense versus Nicaragua’s Real Esteli FC and Olimpia versus fellow Honduran side Motagua.
Forge will also have a crack at Champions League qualification via the Canadian Championship final against Toronto FC, slated for the first quarter of 2021.
There is no word yet on what happens to the Champions League berth on offer in the Canadian Championship final if Forge wins in Honduras next week.
“CONCACAF remains in discussions with Canada Soccer and will provide an update in due course,” a CONCACAF spokesman said.