Pumas are the only club in Mexico to have successfully defended their short-season title, having done so in 2004. The club hopes to return to those winning ways of five years ago.Pumas are the only club to have won back to back league championships, since the start of the short-season format, and according to Juan Francisco “Gatillero” Palencia the UNAM Club now fancy their chances of repeating that feat.
“We have already enjoyed the Clausura championship, we lived it with great intensity, and now it’s time to turn the page and defend the title because in Pumas the league championship is always a demand,” boasted a confident Palencia during a Pumas press conference.
Pumas beat Pachuca in the Clausura 2009 final, which was a bit unexpected. Pachuca and Toluca each seemed destined for a title matchup but Pumas instead prevailed.
“We have everything to have another good tourney because our ambition is very big,” added team captain Leandro Agusto.
What won't set in is satisfaction.
“Just because we won the league championship last season does not mean that this year we will take a break. On the contrary, we now have more responsibilities and winning the championship is always demanded in this institution,” said Palencia.
Now, Pumas will have more of a target than they do already.
“Teams are always looking to defeat Pumas and now that we are champions that situation is magnified but Pumas always tries to play one hundred percent, and does not hold back, we are also used to teams playing against us at one hundred percent,” said the former Chivas USA player.
Palencia also admitted that although the club officials do not pressure them to repeat as champions that is still their mentality.
“They do not pressure us to win the league title but our mentality is to win the championship," he said. "“The team can not be pressured to be champions even though that what we look and work for and right now we have that mentality,” said Leandro of Pumas current condition. “Winning a second league title will be the consequence of the work we do during the tourney, we have to have big ambitions for that, and that should not be something that is turned into pressure.”
Still, first things come first. For Pumas, that first step is to reach the final eight.
“Our first objective will be to qualify to the playoffs and score as many points as possible. We have maintained the same group of players which is very important because we know each other very good and that will help us have a good tourney,” concluded Leandro.
Joel Aceves, Goal.com
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