Changing of the guard
© AFP

Following several years of domination by the same clubs it has been a season of change in the leagues of Central America, with the emergence of a rank outsider, the return of a famous old name, and the repeat coronation of a side that until recently could only dream about domestic silverware.

The big story of the season was the dethroning of Costa Rican aristocrats Deportivo Saprissa by new boys Liberia Mia. Also making a splash were Olimpia, who returned to the top in Honduras, and Isidro Metapan, who clinched their second consecutive championship in El Salvador. FIFA.com has all the details on those stories and the rest of the end-of-term news from Central America.

Purple reign at an end
Such has been Deportivo Saprissa's domestic domination in recent times that the club's name has become almost synonymous with the words "Champions of Costa Rica". The winners of five Tico titles in a row, The Purple Monster seemed set to gobble up a sixth when they advanced to the semi-finals of the 2009 Clausura championship play-offs.

Saprissa reckoned without ambitious new arrivals Liberia Mia, however, a well drilled outfit coached by the little-known Frenchman Alain Gayhardy but packed with experienced campaigners such as Alvaro Mesen, Harold Wallace and Victor Nunez. The underdogs put that experience to good use in the second leg at Deportivo's Ricardo Saprissa citadel, winning 1-0 to secure a place in the final.

Waiting to meet Las Jirafas (The Giraffes) were another national powerhouse in the shape of Sport Club Herediano, who went into the final as favourites despite having gone 16 years without winning a trophy. That status counted for little in the two-legged decider as Liberia Mia outplayed their illustrious rivals, winning 3-0 away in the return leg to claim the championship for the first time in their history.

Liberia's fairytale triumph is made all the more remarkable by the fact that they only reached the Primera Division in 2000/01 and that the unheralded Gayhardy, a PE teacher in his native France, is in his very first coaching job.

One comeback and two in a row
A new champion was also crowned in Honduras, though the club in question can hardly be described as new kids on the block. After a season out of the limelight, Olimpia promptly returned to the pinnacle thanks to an exciting extra-time defeat of Real Espana in their championship decider.

Coached by Juan Carlos Espinoza and led on the pitch by the ever-dependable Uruguayan Ramiro Bruschi, Los Leones secured their 22nd league title thanks to Brazilian defender Fabio de Souza's winner, which came after the teams had played out a 1-1 draw in normal time.

There was no shift in power in neighbouring El Salvador however, with high-flying Isidro Metapan retaining the title they won last year courtesy of a 1-0 defeat of mighty Luis Angel Firpo. Alexander Amaya was the goal hero as Los Caleros collected only the third league trophy of their history.

Guatemala and Panama's failure to reach the final six-team group in CONCACAF Zone qualifying for South Africa 2010 has given them a little more time to schedule their respective championship finales, while fans in Nicaragua and Belize are also anticipating exciting denouements to their title races.