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Atlante flying high after CONCACAF success

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Atlante's regular-season campaign may be in jeopardy but manager Jose Guadalupe Cruz is hoping to walk away with glory nonetheless.

With little hopes of reaching the Clausura 2009 Liguilla, Atlante nevertheless are within sights of a regional crown as the club beat Santos 3-1 on Wednesday to book passage to the CONCACAF Champions League final.

As Atlante prepare for Saturday's league match with Guadalajara, manager Jose Guadalupe Cruz said his club is highly energetic following the midweek victory.

"Reaching the final leaves me very satisfied," Cruz said. "I know that if we do not win the final, everything we've done to get to this point will be forgotten. So we're going to prepare very well for Cruz Azul, because it's clear that you don't get to this point every day."

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Atlante did well to get to the final, not just by taking care of business at home but also in keeping the score close on the road, Cruz said. Atlante lost the first leg by 2-1 in Estadio Corona but the road goal was monumental.

"I want to congratulate every single player because they deserve it," Cruz said. "They managed the away game well and showed a lot of character. The road goal was important in the end and was the difference in the series, and I believe that this is a just prize for a team that fought hard this semifinal, that showed personality and the same brand of football home and away."

In order to book a ticket to the FIFA Club World Cup in December, Atlante must go through Cruz Azul. While seemingly a challenge - few expected Atlante to even reach this point - los Potros de Hierro will try to live up to the history their opponents present and continue building upon a tradition they established in Cancun by winning the Apertura 2007 season, the club's first in the Mexican Riviera.

"You play a final to win it," Cruz said. "Going to Estadio Azul to play a final agaisnt Cruz Azul will always be a challenge, one that motivates and is enjoyable for everybody." --