Dorados de Sinaloa, a second-division Mexican soccer club that has made a remarkable turnaround under the guidance of head coach Diego Maradona, will host Atletico San Luis in the first leg of the final of the Ascenso MX's Apertura 2018 playoffs.
After managing his team to a record of six wins, one draw and one loss down the final stretch of the regular season and then to two series victories in the playoffs, the Argentine soccer legend now has a new challenge ahead of him starting Thursday night at Banorte Stadium in this western city.
He will rely for offense on Ecuadorian forward Vinicio Angulo, who scored the lone goal in a defense-minded quarter-final clash against second-seeded Zacatecas; and Argentine striker Jorge Cordoba, who put a ball in the back of the net in a 2-1 victory on aggregate over top-seeded Juarez in the semi-finals.
But Sinaloa will have to be wary of an Atletico side that had a record of three wins, two draws and just one loss on the road during the regular season and also notched a deciding 3-1 away victory in the second leg of their quarter-final series against Sonora.
Coached by Alfonso Sosa, San Luis allowed just 10 goals (tied for the fewest) during the regular portion of the Apertura 2018, the first championship of the Ascenso MX's 2018-2019 season.
But that San Luis Potosi-based club also can be potent offensively and boasts Argentine forward Nicolas Ibañez, who finished tied for first in goals scored (eight) during the 14-game season.
The teams played to a 1-1 draw in their last meeting on Nov. 10, when Maradona insulted a referee and was subsequently fined.
The second leg of the final will be played in San Luis Potosi on Sunday night.
Both teams are trying to secure promotion to the 2019-2020 edition of the Liga MX, Mexican soccer's first division.
Either can do so by winning both the Ascenso MX's Apertura 2018 and Clausura 2019 titles or by winning one of them and then defeating the champion of the other competition in a two-legged playoff.