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Deportivo FAS
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25. juni 2013 21:13
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Sv: Sydamerikansk fodbold i Danmark - hvad mener I?

MANUEL DOS SANTOS FRANCISCO: ALEGRIA DO POVO ´THE JOY OF THE PEOPLE´

“In the entire history of football no one made more people happy”

Eduardo Galeano, Uruguayan writer

A brother of his, out of many, christened him with name of a small pathetic bird. He was a malformed protégé of polio and deprivation. Both legs curved to one side, his spine was shaped like a capital S and he had an immaturity that belied his life experience. He lost his virginity to a goat. His father was an alcoholic, and the man himself drunk a bottle a day of the fierce national rum cachaça –sometimes before a game.

The incredulity that comes with accepting the truth of this story is far more believable than the exaggerated lie of pure idolatry. This man was not a perfect human being.

He was an incorrigible alcoholic and womanizer. He fathered 14 children by 5 different women. He had a lengthy and sulphurous association with a samba singer. Later he was involved in a car crash in which her mother-in-law died.

He, who left a wake of ruin on the pitch did not cope well with such destruction off it, and the wretched creature full of cachaça and misguided thoughts tried to kill himself. He failed but his actions would achieve the same outcome eventually.

Yet he also won the World Cup twice. In Sweden in 58 he was the best in the world in his position. Four years later in Chile he was simply the best in the world.

Was it alchemy or witchcraft he practiced when playing jogo bonito ? A Chilean newspaper speaking of magical realism before many knew what it was, asked in 62 “which planet is he from?”

In Brazil people use both their mother’s and father’s last names. His mother’s was dos Santos. His father’s was Francisco. Except the man was too pissed at the registrar’s office to add Francisco to his son’s name. (Is there a hereditary gene that passes addiction from father to son? Or is it your surroundings and the choices you make that condemn you?).

He had many nicknames including ´O Anjo de Pernas Tortas´, ´The Angel With Bent Legs´ and Alegria do Povo ´The Joy of the People´.

The world would simply know the boy as Garrincha.

Garrincha whose grandparents were slaves was born in Pau Grande, a district of Magé, in the state of Rio de Janeiro, in 1933.

In his childhood between swimming in rivers and kicking makeshift footballs the angel with the bent legs nicknamed after a doleful and pitiful little bird used to kill these creatures known as Garrinchas. The symbolism and irony of the act are too powerful.

The privation he endured as a penniless and starving urchin was honed into a potency which allowed him to gain a place on teams through ability and sporting prowess -, as his natural ability to hustle on the street morphed into invaluable body swerves, imbuing him with the guile to throw bewitching and contorted spells on the pitch.

A ball offered social mobility for those who couldn’t afford toys – a spherical angel that blessed the lad by offering the chance to feed and clothe himself, turn him into an all-conquering superhero, and because she really took a shine to him, made him a deity for all eternity.

One of the most talented footballers the world has ever seen, the splendour of his intuitive imagination crystallising into outrageously joyous acts, sporting taunts on the pitch. In games he would regularly fake to shoot. Sometimes he would even fake not to shoot, and score. But that was only after he had his fun. Goals were the necessary climax but he much preferred the foreplay.

His play was sensual but possessed a violence of movement that sent cumbersome defenders running into thin air, like dogs tracking and hounding a rabbit that deceives them by changing direction suddenly, cunningly and without warning.

I showed my six year old son Garrincha’s goals on youtube. The boy, who loves football as I once did, with spontaneity and innocent passion that supersedes even sleep and food, instantly fell in love with this bandy legged little bird, this Chaplin of the turf. “He’s….he’s…” I let him finish. I wanted to hear a new description of ´O Anjo de Pernas Tortas´ - ´The Angel With Bent Legs´.

My little lad stopped and tried again. This time he articulated a perfect fact with the deadly accuracy of a child: “Daddy, I didn’t know you could be a good player if you didn’t pass the ball”.

What is a legacy? Is it a body of work or your behaviour as a human being?

Mozart composed, and played in front of European royalty when he was five but was known as vain and pompous. Beethoven had custody battles and cried when his deafness meant he could no longer hear his applause. He is said to have died during a dramatic storm, the moment of his passing coinciding with a dramatic clap of thunder. An autopsy found damage to the liver consistent with cirrhosis.

Does your life away from the body of your work even matter when you leave such joy behind?

In Garrincha’s case he left a magic encased in old men’s recollections and dreams. Sepia memoirs that are now living on as digitally re-mastered second millennium bite size links.

In the build-up to the 1958 World Cup, Garrincha had to have his tonsils removed. He sat unblinking as he watched the needle ease into his mouth. He lost a lot of blood and when he returned to the loving arms of the selecao he was nine pounds lighter. Pele asked him if he was ok. Garrincha smiled and replied, “I fulfilled a childhood dream – I got to eat ice cream after having my tonsils out”.

In psychometric tests he was classed as below primary school age with zero aggression. He even spelt the word athlete incorrectly on his form. If he was back in Pau Grande he wouldn’t have been allowed to drive the school bus. But what does education matter when you can produce joy? What would you choose?

In a warm up match before Sweden 58, Brazil played Fiorentina. Late in the second half Garrincha beat the Viola players, Robotti, Magnini, Cervato before selling an outrageous dummy to the keeper Sarti. He now had an open goal in front of him but he chose to wait for the onrushing Robotti. With a feint of the shoulders the Brazillian left the Italian to run into the post, nearly knocking himself out in the process. He then passed the ball serenely into the net, as if there was no other option for his fun to continue.

Calmly he lifted the ball with his foot into his hands, stuck it under his arm and walked back to the centre circle, head lowered out of respect. The crowd was momentarily stunned before it erupted at what it had just seen. Never mind they were now 4-0 down the Viola fans stood as one and acclaimed the little bird with wild abandon. They knew they had just seen magic.

The Brazilian selectors, wary of his individuality (oh the irony) but apprehensive ahead of the vital group game a month later v USSR, finally relented amidst player pressure unheard of at the time, and picked him. Sputnik had been launched the year before, and The Soviets were feared as mysterious idols with their “scientific football”. Garrincha, in all his naivety asked, “might these guys be good?”

Brazil needed to start well if their shadowy Cold War Supermen could run for 90 minutes. What followed has been described as the best three minutes in Brazilian footballing history. In the space of 180 seconds Garrincha beat defender Kutnetzov four times, left Voinov on his back complete with accompanying laughter from the 50,000 crowd in Gothenburg, and hit the post. Pele then hit the bar as the Brazilians kept attacking. Legendary keeper Lev Yashin was already soaked in sweat and was so disorientated he congratulated Pele after Vava scored their first on three minutes. French Legend Gabriel Hannot later said they were the greatest three minutes in the history of football. Brazil won 2-0 and went on to win beat Sweden 5-2 in the World Cup Final, the normally taciturn Scandinavians cheering the selecao as if it was their triumph.

Garrincha was always a contradiction. This streetwise colloso was also muito ingenuo , even on the pitch. In the final against Sweden it was said that Garrincha didn’t even know who the opponents were, and at the finish he meandered around the pitch asking “is it the end?”

Garrincha won the World Cup in 1958. In 1962 he won it again, almost singlehandedly. Brazil never lost a football match with Pele and him in the side. Despite many approaches from European giants he stayed loyal to Botafogo, winning the Campeonato Carioca three times and scoring 249 goals in 579 games for the team that means firelighter. The metaphor was perfect: this combustible figure was an inferno on and off the pitch.

Pele said: “Garrincha was an incredible player, one of the best there has ever been. He could do things with the ball that no other player could do and without Garrincha, I would have never been a three-times world champion."

Yet the football gods, capricious creatures they are, can also cast heroes back to penury and derision, usually through an addiction or two, laid back excess and a turbulent private life.

In 1980, suffering from delirium tremens and haemorrhaging he was asked to take part in the Rio carnival. As he sat stupefied with medicine on his float, as millions watched horrified from the side-lines and on television, Pele, in a VIP box threw him a garland. Garrincha was too spaced out to even notice. The camera cut back to Pele who by then was shaking his head sadly saying “oh my god”, at the horror of it all.

What a strange thing it must be to be discarded by strangers, abandoned by family and loved by an entire nation. Yet there he sat in an alcoholic stupor or drugged with medication depending on who you believe, unaware of his own obsolescence. Unaware of anything. Too drunk or dazed to understand even pity or revulsion.

Those the gods love they first mock then destroy.

The only predictable aspect of Garrincha’s his life was his death: destitute, intoxicated and abandoned. This double world champion was already mired in the poverty that formed him, and less than three years later his body failed him. He died penniless and alone.

Millions lined the route on the day of his funeral, and on his gravestone it reads “Here rests in peace the one who was the Joy of the People – Mané Garrincha.”

In tribute the Maracana, the old evocative one, not the shiny new one ready to welcome the world next summer, called the away dressing room “Pele”. The home one was called “Garrincha”.

Unlike Beethoven there was no clap of thunder when he died. For Garrincha, Alegria do Povo - if not Manuel dos Santos Francisco - the gods owed him that at least.
Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > Säo Paulo


Indigente Cheto - "Uruguay Rusia Egipto Arabia Saudita. Tenemos mas chances de un atentado que de quedar eliminados"
Deportivo FAS
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25. juni 2013 21:15
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Sv: Sydamerikansk fodbold i Danmark - hvad mener I?

FOR KÉVIN ANIN

Brought up by a Martinique family relocated to Le Havre, Kévin Anin grew up in the city´s Mont-Gaillard suburbs practising football in parallel with his main passion, French boxing, a sport he used to battle shyness and sensitivity. Boxing eventually brought two regional championship trophies before Anin decided to focus on football and signed for the Havre youth academy, famed for producing the likes of Vikash Dhorasoo and Steve Mandanda, in 1999 aged 13. Anin signs his first professional contract for the Normandy side seven years later, in 2006, having tussled for the same defensive midfield slot at youth team level with Paul Pogba, who had joined the club at the same time.

After a debut season in Ligue 2, Anin is part of the first team of the oldest club in France (created in 1884 by a handful of Oxford and Cambridge alumni) as it is promoted to Ligue 1 at the end of 2007-2008. Anin discovers the French top flight on August 21, 2008, scoring his first league goal on March 8, 2009 at home against Sochaux. A regular in the Havre side, he compiles 25 appearances as the club reaps just 26 points and finishes the season bottom of the league. On August 31, 2009, the struggling club agrees to sell one of his most promising assets to FC Sochaux, who had kept tabs on him since his first league goal. However the deal is cancelled at the last minute after he suffers an inflammation of his Achilles tendon.

Going back to Ligue 2, Anin features prominently in the Havre midfield before making the move to Sochaux after the club contacts him again one year after his aborted move. There, Anin shows the physicality and power on the ball which attracts the attention of several Premier League sides, including Arsenal, while contributing to the club´s superb fifth spot in the league. He also shows glimpses of the moodiness that would later catch up with him as he is sent off for two yellow cards in thirty seconds against OGC Nice for reacting badly to taunts by François Clerc. He also starts missing several training calls and even fails to turn up for a game at Nancy on August 21, 2011, prompting the Sochaux board to put Anin on the transfer list.

So commanding at the heart of Sochaux´s midfield, Anin increasingly appears to struggle to find his place in real life. It is not a taste for parties and alcohol which prevent him from turning up at training sessions, just a general disdain for his existence as a football player. Subjected to repeated bouts of depression, he tells L´Equipe he loves playing football, calling it “the best job in the world”, but also laments the people gravitating around him with their hypocrisy. “You can earn as much money as you like, if the heart isn´t there what´s the point ? Sometimes I wonder what I´m doing here.”

On January 19, 2012, Anin signs for OGC Nice with the long-term objective of replacing Emerse Faé, who was also obliged to call a premature end to his career. There, he joins forces with his old Havre team-mate and OGCN captain Didier Digard at the heart of the Nice midfield, featuring in 13 of the season´s last 19 games.

And then, once again, he disappears.

As the 2012-2013 season starts, Anin is nowhere to be found. After days of uncertainty he finally calls club staff to tell them he has remained with his parents in Normandy for ‘personal reasons’. The OGCN board is at a loss but coach Claude Puel, instrumental in bringing the player to the South of France, decides to persevere with Anin, citing his ‘world class’ potential. “This player is very sensitive and his every performance is heavily dependent on his mood of the day”, offers the Nice coach on a player who always takes a unique route to the training ground – the longest one, going along the Promenade des Anglais by the coast.

Five months later, on January 6, 2013, Anin finally comes back and makes an appearance in the French Cup against Metz. Two months later, he is man of the match against star-studded Paris Saint-Germain, dominating a midfield of Blaise Matuidi, Marco Verratti and Javier Pastore, though failing to prevent his team from a heavy 0-3 loss. Just when you thought this outing would motivate him to get back to his playing ways, he disappears again. Claude Puel intervenes saying the player has “serious problems” and will only come back when he feels able to. Meanwhile Kévin Anin stays at his parents´ home in the Havre suburbs.

In the early hours of June 4, on the A28 Normandy highway, Anin was a passenger in the back seat of a friend’s car as he lost control of the vehicle and crashed. Maintained in an artificial coma for ten days, Anin’s life is not thought to be in immediate danger, however the long-term repercussions of the crash, including a question mark over whether Anin will be able to walk again, are not yet known.
Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > Säo Paulo


Indigente Cheto - "Uruguay Rusia Egipto Arabia Saudita. Tenemos mas chances de un atentado que de quedar eliminados"
Deportivo FAS
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25. juni 2013 21:17
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Sv: Sydamerikansk fodbold i Danmark - hvad mener I?

WHEN O MENGÁO RULED THE WORLD

In any club’s Golden Age there’s usually one particular season when everything just comes together. 2013 was the year it all clicked into place for Bayern Munich. Manchester United had 1999. For Clube de Regatas do Flamengo their zenith was 1981. This was the year when the Rubro-Negro were at the peak of their considerable powers in an era when they dominated Brazilian club football capturing three national titles and three Rio State championships between 1978 and 1983.

The Flamengo team was littered with exceptional players, some of whom would be part of the fabled Brazil squad that would gloriously fail at the 1982 World Cup in Spain. There was Leandro, another in the long and illustrious line of attacking right full backs to represent the Seleção, the stylish Júnior, who could play at left back or on the left hand side of midfield with equal aplomb despite being predominately right footed and, of course, the jewel in Flamengo’s crown, the legendary Zico.

Born Artur Antunes Coimbra in Rio de Janeiro on March 3rd 1953, the gifted playmaker was considered by many to be the world’s best player during the late seventies and early eighties. Such was Zico’s influence at the Estadio Maracanã, he was made captain of the club and while Socrates possessed the armband for the national team, Zico was undoubtedly the star attraction. At the beginning of the 1981 season, Zico was 28-years-old and in his prime. The ‘White Pelé’ was the driving force behind Flamengo’s 1980 Brasileirão success, scoring a league-leading 21 of the team’s 46 goals for the men coached by Paulo Carpegiani. The men from the Rio district of Gávea lost just two of their 22 league fixtures, defeating Atlético Mineiro in the two-legged championship play-off.

This resilience would stand them in good stead for their 1981 campaign which would include not only the defence of the national title and the Campeonato Carioca domestically, but also the quest to secure their first ever triumph in the Copa Libertadores, the competition to find South America’s continental club champions. The season kicked off in January with teams invited to join the national championship under a new format of group stages based on finishing places in their respective regional competitions from the previous year. Having progressed through Group D of the opening phase as runners-up, they then proceeded to top their section in the second phase. The quarter-final was a two-legged knockout encounter against another of Rio’s big four clubs, Botafogo. Flamengo (the Portuguese word for Flemish) were defeated 3-1 on aggregate and so by mid-April 1981 they had to relinquish their grip on the Brasileirão trophy.

Just one month after this elimination, Flamengo set about winning back the Campeonato Carioca which had evaded their grasp since 1979. The convoluted system to determine the champions of Rio State included the first stage, the Taça Guanabara, where the big four (Flamengo, Botafogo, Fluminense and Vasco da Gama) are seeded and drawn into groups with other participants, then comes the second stage called the Taça Rio. The winners of Taça Guanabara and Taça Rio compete in a two-legged final with the winner crowned the tournament’s overall champion. If the same team wins both the Taça Guanabara and the Taça Rio, they would automatically be the tournament champion, rendering a final unnecessary.

By July, Flamengo had secured victory in the Taça Guanabara. The standout result came against Americano; a 7-0 thrashing at the Maracanã. And, having won that initial part of the State championship and having guaranteed their participation in the final play-off, Flamengo could afford to take it easier for the Taça Rio spanning the latter part of the season. This came at a very convenient time given that the group phase of the Copa Libertadores kicked off just as the Taça Guanabara was won.

The first group stage proved tough for Flamengo. They were drawn alongside fellow Brazilians and old foes, Atlético Mineiro, and two Paraguayan clubs, Cerro Porteño and Olimpia Asunción in Group Three. Zico and Nunes lit up the competition with two goals each in a 5-2 win over Cerro Porteño, two more for Nunes in a pair of 2-2 draws with Atlético Mineiro and a hat-trick for Zico in the return fixture with Cerro Porteño. After two victories, four draws and no defeats each, a play-off was needed between Flamengo and their fellow countrymen from Belo Horizonte to decide who filled the winner and runner-up berths for qualification for the second round (goal difference was not taken into consideration). An extraordinary game, played at the neutral Serra Dourada stadium in Goiânia on a pitch with the most bizarrely patterned cut-grass, was abandoned after only 37 minutes, as referee, Jose Roberto Wright, sent five Mineiro players off for various crimes of violence, intimidation and gamesmanship. Amid the all-too-common South American scenes of police and officials storming the playing surface, Wright strode from the field, and the game, and therefore the honour of being group winners was awarded to Flamengo.

The round-robin second stage was negotiated with ease. Carpegiani’s men blitzed past Club Jorge Wilsterman of Bolivia and the Colombians, Deportivo Cali. Winning all four games, Zico was yet again the inspiration with Nunes and Adilio assisting with the goalscoring as Flamengo advanced to the Copa Libertadores final with a 100% record. The final itself would not come against another of the continent’s more famous or glamorous clubs, but with Cobreloa, a club formed just four years earlier in 1977 in the Chilean desert mining city of Calama. On November 13th 1981, almost 94,000 spectators filled the Maracanã for the first leg, and after 30 minutes the home fans had seen their hero, Zico, score twice. The Chileans, despite the early onslaught, held firm and in the second half, Victor Merello pulled a goal back to give them hope for the second leg back in Chile. A week later in the Estadio Nacional in Santiago, Flamengo hung on to their 2-1 aggregate lead until the 84th minute. Merello scored the goal that took the Copa Libertadores into a third and deciding match as the away goal rule traditionally used in European club competition was not utilised in South America.

Montevideo, the Uruguayan capital, held the final installment of the Flamengo-Cobreloa drama, and there was only one candidate for the role of chief protagonist; Zico. The great man’s double strike, in a game where five players were dismissed, gave the Brazilian giants their first Copa Libertadores title. Finally, their domestic dominance had been transferred to the continental scene and confirmed this generation as the greatest in Flamengo’s history. Far from being content with this accolade, the team had two more mountains to climb before their immortality would be rubber-stamped and it took a tragedy to test their renowned powers of togetherness to galvanise them for the tasks ahead.

Cláudio Coutinho, the coach credited with building the foundations of Flamengo’s success throughout the late seventies before taking charge of the national team, drowned whilst diving in the Cagarras Islands, an archipelago near Ipanema Beach. The accident occurred just a week before Flamengo took on Vasco da Gama in the Rio State final. Vasco had earned their place in the championship decider by topping the Taça Rio. They also possessed in their ranks the season’s leading scorer, the explosively named Roberto Dinamite, who had notched an impressive 31 goals. Spurred on by emotion, Flamengo regained the Campeonato Carioca after a 2-1 victory. Their triumph was immediately dedicated to their former leader. Júnior presented his match-worn shirt to Coutinho’s son in honour of the man the players called ‘Smudge’.

The ultimate accolade for Flamengo would come on an even further-flung foreign shore than their Libertadores success. As champions of South America they were obliged to take part in the 1981 Intercontinental Cup in Tokyo and take on Europe’s top team, Liverpool, for the title of World Club champions. The English side were feared around the world having, like Flamengo, dominated their domestic league for the previous few campaigns and won their continent’s top prize three times in five seasons. Liverpool were considered favourites for the showpiece occasion, yet traditionally this competition was not taken as seriously by its European participants as it was by the South Americans, especially as it came right in the middle of the long European season and was seen as an unwanted and distantly-held distraction. While Liverpool’s star names such as Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness and England’s Player of the Year, Terry McDermott failed to sparkle, Nunes, Adilio and in particular Man of the Match, Zico dazzled for O Mengão as they romped to an unexpected 3-0 win. The Toyota Cup and more importantly, the coronation as the world’s best team was secured with style.

For the captain, Zico, 1981 was the year he was confirmed as the planet’s top footballer. His creative and goalscoring genius allied to Flamengo’s other stellar cast members and their will to succeed helped propel the Brazilians to legendary status. Eleven months of toil, tragedy, drama and determination resulted in the recognition that Flamengo ruled the world.
Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > Säo Paulo


Indigente Cheto - "Uruguay Rusia Egipto Arabia Saudita. Tenemos mas chances de un atentado que de quedar eliminados"
Deportivo FAS
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25. juni 2013 21:19
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Sv: Sydamerikansk fodbold i Danmark - hvad mener I?


AUCAS - THE INSIDE STORY OF QUITO´S GREATEST TEAM

Last year I was in Ecuador, South America, to spend time with a team called Sociedad Deportiva Aucas. Founded in 1945, and originally owned by oil company Royal Dutch Shell, financial troubles have cost them dearly in recent years, resulting in a dramatic fall from grace. They were floundering in the third tier of the league system when I arrived, but had begun to benefit from the backing of local businessman Ramiro Gordon and had ambitious plans to return to the top.

Ecuador has two professional football divisions, La A and La B. Whilst both are comprised of twelve teams and use the standard league format, the division below is split into 19 regional leagues. The winners and runners up of the regional leagues qualify for the zonal leagues, with the zonal winners entering a national league to determine the overall champion that is promoted to La B. It is an epic tournament that lasts almost an entire year and is notoriously difficult to win, mainly due to the amount of games played. Trying to maintain a squad focused and motivated for such an extended period of time requires great skill, with managers constantly battling to reduce the number of injured and fatigued players through the use of squad rotation.

The idea behind this league setup was that it would help semi-pro and amateur teams, who have extremely limited finances, by reducing travelling times and consequently costs. In reality, although this aspect was achieved, it actually made it much harder for smaller teams to gain promotion; their smaller squads can´t cope with such an arduous and lengthy campaign, and if they manage to qualify for the regional phase then they have to start travelling anyway.

It is in this division that Aucas had been stagnating for several years, unable to push their way through and take the final step to promotion. Qualification at the regional and zonal phases is not particularly difficult to manoeuvre, but the previous season saw the team come unstuck at the national level, to the immense dismay of their fans. This failed attempt was not accepted lightly and an angry mob of ‘fans’ hurled stones, bottles and anything to hand at the players and coaching staff, who were forced to take refuge in the changing rooms for several hours under armed guard.

There is immense support and passion for this team and they regularly have higher attendances than many first division clubs. They are also one of only several teams in the entire country to own their own stadium and consequently have a distinct advantage over amateur opposition. The downside of their professional status is the incredible pressure and expectation that the team should qualify through each phase with ease, including the final stage.

Upon arriving at the start of pre-season training I was informed that almost the entire squad was made up of new signings. This is fairly common practice for many teams in the lower divisions, although I did wonder how long it was going to take for them to start playing with any type of understanding or cohesion. Jose Vicente Moreno was the man in charge, an ex-player who displayed his goal scoring talents at Liga de Quito in the 90´s and had studied for his coaching qualifications in Spain. His assistant, Luis Granda, had been a very successful player for El Nacional and had also been an assistant manager at many top division sides. Forming the rest of the coaching team were fitness coach Cesar Benalcazar and goalkeeping coach Cesar Ramos. Both were hugely experienced and talented and had been part of the coaching setup that travelled with the national side to the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea.

Training took place in several locations and a typical week would start with a match on Sunday morning. The whole squad would then have a rest day on Monday to recover from the exertions of the previous day, although any injured players would see the doctor to continue working on their rehabilitation. Only the coaching staff would get together to discuss the match performance from the day before and they would also plan the programme for the coming week.

A morning training session in ‘La Carolina’, which is a vast public park right in the heart of Quito, would take place on Tuesday and was often led by Cesar Benalcazar. Wednesday was normally a double training day; morning training at the Aucas complex in Chillogallo, which is a poor neighbourhood in the south of the city, followed by an additional session in the stadium in the afternoon. The stadium is adjacent to the complex and so the coaching staff and players would eat together and socialise on a Wednesday afternoon when they had a double session. This allowed for a relaxed and pleasant ambience within the squad and led nicely into the afternoon session, which was always purely football based. Jose Moreno and Luis Granda would work together on team shape and set pieces, and the emphasis was on tactics rather than fitness.

Thursday´s training would be either at the military school facilities, known as ESMIL, on the outskirts of the city, or at the Aucas complex and Friday was again at the complex. Saturday morning would involve a short session, normally a small sided game which was characterised by the players dividing themselves into two teams. There was no discrimination or racism within the team, but they always formed ‘blancos’ versus ‘negros’ for the ‘big game’ and it was the most fun they had all week. The players would then stay at the training ground for the rest of the day and after eating lunch they would often go to the cinema in the afternoon, or participate in activities such as table tennis, playing pool, or watching television. All squad members selected for the match were required to sleep at the facilities, before going direct to the match on Sunday, and Cesar Ramos was the ‘night watchman’ for want of a better description. This is common practice in Ecuador and many other South American countries, where there is a longstanding belief that this custom focuses the players´ minds on the upcoming match. It also allows the coaching staff to monitor and supervise them the day before a game, to make sure that no-one is doing anything they shouldn´t be.

There was a priority placed on fitness work during the first few weeks of the season, as is customary at all clubs during pre-season, with the coaching staff well aware of the physical demands of the season ahead. Plenty of exercises aimed at improving agility, sprinting, and stamina were used, along with basic ball exercises in small groups and teams. The atmosphere was positive, the training slowly but surely increasing fitness levels, and the new players were beginning to integrate into the side.

Friendly matches were arranged and potential signings were talked about by the management and sporting director. Several players were given trials and others were allowed to train with the team to maintain fitness, despite not being registered to a club. One of these was Omar de Jesus, a veteran 36-year-old right back who had played at the club about a decade earlier. After amassing almost 300 appearances for Aucas, between 1993 - 2002, he had gone on to play for El Nacional and Barcelona Guayaquil before being released at the end of the previous season. He was affectionately known as ´tio´ and although he trained only to improve his fitness, the coaching staff quickly realised that he was still good enough to play regularly. He accepted their contract offer and it appeared that this was to be the most surprising signing of Aucas´ pre-season, but the news was about to be eclipsed by the arrival of an Ecuadorian football superstar.

Jaime Ivan Kaviedes is one of the most famous footballers in Ecuador. Over the course of a career stretching back to 1995, he has played in Italy, Spain, England, Argentina, Mexico and Ecuador. He scored the crucial goal in a World Cup qualifier against Uruguay, which allowed Ecuador to qualify for their first ever World Cup, and is still fondly remembered for an overhead kick goal against Barcelona that was voted goal of the Spanish season for 00/01. He is recognised as a star of the Ecuadorian game but his life has not been without drama. It is widely known that he has battled a drug problem for years and many people claimed that he is unreliable, bad for team morale and past his best. Despite this he is still a big media attraction and loved by his adoring fans.

Aucas decided that is was worthwhile taking a chance on a potentially disruptive figure and were immediately the talk of the town; his first training session in La Carolina park was attended by hundreds of fans, along with every major television and radio station reporter in the country. His team mates were shocked at the attention suddenly thrust upon them and many of the younger players were in awe of playing with their idol. Several experienced players such as Gustavo Figueroa, Omar de Jesus and Wellington Sanchez gave him a warm welcome to the club; they had played together previously for the national team and were able to take the media focus in their stride.

After numerous interviews held up the start of training (even the kit man got his five minutes of fame!) the session began, but only after the coaching staff had asked the spectators and members of the press to move back to allow them an area in which to work. All eyes were on Kaviedes, but his teammates seemed more nervous than he did, as no-one wanted to make a mistake in front of the national media. Small talk and banter quickly settled the group into a positive working environment and a possession game developed nicely; five or six players formed a circle and another player in the centre tried to win it back. Deft touches, back heels and plenty of flair were on show, and players, coaching staff, spectators and journalists all thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

As the session came to its conclusion there was another media scramble to grab a quick interview with the new ´star man´, combined with a wave of rushing spectators all wanting an autograph and photo with their idol. The rest of the players were left to drink from their water bottles and stand watching the show. Everything had begun well, spirits were high and there was a definite air of optimism surrounding Aucas’ chances of promotion.

Pre-season form was encouraging, with several wins over higher placed teams, including a victory against arch rivals Liga de Quito. The ‘Superclasico Capitalino’ took place at Liga´s training facilities and Liga´s president, Esteban Paz, declared that the first division missed their presence and hoped they could make a swift return to top division action.

The squad initially contained 34 players, but many of the younger ones were sent on loan to gain match experience and develop their skills. This meant that the coaching staff had a manageable group of about twenty to work with, which allowed for injuries and suspensions to occur without decimating the team. A preferred starting eleven was taking shape, as was the formation that Jose Vicente Moreno wanted to use.

The first official game of the season arrived and a crowd close to 11,000 spectators turned up to watch ´El Papa Aucas´ defeat Universidad San Francisco by a scoreline of 2-0. A carnival atmosphere was provided by the fans, with plenty of noise, colour and encouragement throughout. It was a satisfactory opening to the season although plenty of work was still required to get the team playing the type of flowing football desired. Nevertheless, the team had won, there were encouraging signs of progress and fitness levels were increasing.

Ten games into the season and Aucas were in pole position in the table. They had won all of their matches and attained the maximum 30 points available. No doubts existed about whether the team would qualify for the next phase of competition; it was just a matter of when they would be mathematically assured of their passage. Concerns about the style of play still lingered, as a result of several occasions where the team had struggled to defeat significantly weaker opposition. Various changes were made to both personnel and formations during this period to try and find a solution, but nothing seemed to gel as desired. However, the team was definitely heading in the right direction and morale remained high; the plan now was to maintain a winning attitude and continue working on attacking fluidity. The push for promotion was underway and nothing was going to stop this team from getting to La B.
Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > Säo Paulo


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Apropos U-20 VM

The Winds of Change – South America at the 2013 Under-20 World Cup

It’s that time again. Suitcases are being packed, studs checked and other necessary preparations are being made as the best youth teams from across the globe converge on Turkey for the nineteenth edition of the FIFA Under 20 World Cup.

As you look at the nations headed to the tournament, something seems to be amiss. Another check soon reveals the aberration. The list of participants from CONMEBOL does not contain Brazil or Argentina. Dismal displays from both countries in the U20 South American Championships earlier this year means that neither nation will take part.

This occurrence is the first of its kind in the history of the competition. However, even without the presence of the continent’s two giants, South America’s travelling contingent is expected to put in a strong showing. Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay and Colombia are all capable sides. A glance at each side displays an interesting pattern if the concept of emergence is applied. A clear hierarchy can be observed in terms of increasing complexity of the team dynamic.

Paraguay

Starting at the bottom from this perspective, we have Paraguay. Victor Egenes’ charges came within a point of winning the Under-20 South American title, and they’ll be hoping to build on that in Turkey.

As per usual, a concern for aesthetics will not be found here. Paraguay’s qualification campaign was built on defensive solidity, counter-attacking, and a maximisation of set-pieces opportunities. In fact, almost half of their goals came from dead ball situations.

The importance of their incredible work ethic and mental fortitude on the pitch cannot be understated. There is some variety in the team’s tactical setup in the form of an ability to switch seamlessly between multiple formations.

Jorge Rojas is the talismanic figure for the Paraguayans. The versatile youngster can usually be found out wide where he drives the team forward with power, pace, and quite a bit of guile.

Up front there is much for opponents to fear as Egenes has the dangerous duo of Derlis Gonzalez and Cecilio Dominguez. They complement each other well with the former being a quick support striker while the latter is well-rounded, traditional number 9. Other key men include the dependable enforcer Ivan Ramirez and the solid left sided defender Junior Alonso. Attacker Arnaldo Sanabria of FC Barcelona is another to keep an eye on.

Uruguay

The next rung of the ladder is occupied by Uruguay. The mini-Celeste enjoyed a solid campaign on their road to qualification after a rocky start brought on by a shaky defence. These holes were plugged before the latter stages, and consequently Nicolas Lopez and company finished just below Paraguay in the final standings.

Like the Paraguayans, their game plan is centred mostly around being defensively solid before striking quickly on the counterattack. However, unlike their South American compatriots, the personnel at their disposal are more sophisticated in their application of this tactic.

The aforementioned Nicolas Lopez is the team’s main star. The AS Roma man is a complete striker. He is as slippery as a mongoose on the ball, finishes with a coldness found far south of his homeland, and has the ability to stay front or operate wide.

His second in command is Diego Laxalt. The cornrowed wide midfielder plays an important role in both phases of play. His discipline, speed, and energy help to limit opposition attacks down the flanks, and then he springs forward, combining the last two attributes with tight dribbling to arm Uruguay’s forays forward.

Other important squad members include midfielder Sebastian Cristoforo with his keen defensive awareness and decent passing range and rightback Guillermo Varela who provides quality at both ends of the pitch. Coach Juan Verzeri likes to juggle his forward options but the nippy, intelligent Diego Rolan should be Lopez’s most consistent partner. The height and strength of Ruben Bentancourt (or if you prefer, Edinson Cavani 2.0) provides a different option in attack.

Colombia

Brazil’s implosion at the U20 South American Championships meant their three edition reign of the competition ended. Colombia was the team who claimed the empty throne. The crown did not come easy though with victory only secured in the very last game of the tournament against Paraguay. After reaching the quarterfinals as hosts two years ago, they go to Turkey with aspirations of improving on that achievement.

Carlos Restrepo’s squad has the capability to do just that. Colombia has perhaps the least (or most, depending on your perspective) distinct way of playing of South American’s contingent. Defensively the emphasis is mostly on presenting a block to the opposing team.

In possession wing play is important, but Colombia’s attacking play essentially revolvers around one player. Juan Fernando Quintero (or Juanfer if you prefer) was, by quite some distance, the best player in South American qualifying. He’s the type of player that makes you feel underdressed if you’re watching him in anything less than a three piece suit. But the weight of Quintero’s influence can be a double-edged sword.

There is a slight over-reliance on his ability to influence a game which means that opposing teams have a neon lit sign pointing them in the direction of how to limit Colombia’s attacking threat – Chile did this to great effect in qualifying. However, knowing something and executing it are two vastly different things. In this instance, they are separated by a player of sublime skill, vision, poise, and awareness. He is a playmaker in the old style, but one who is suited to the modern game.

Quintero’s support structure from the qualification phase has changed. Attacking midfielder Juan Nieto is injured while Road Runner impressionist Maurico Cuero has fallen out of favor. The speedster Andres Renteria is the main new addition.

Remaining pillars of the side that won the South American title include goalkeeper Cristian Bonilla, combative midfielder Jose Leudo, and striker Jhon Cordoba whose physical presence and eye for goal are a lethal combination. Attacker Brayan Perea had an underwhelming South American Championships, but there is talent there, so it’ll be interesting to see if he can come out of his shell this time around.

Chile

The Chileans stand at the top of the complexity of emergence scale. Mario Salas’s men were the most eye-catching team at the U20 South American Championships with their emphasis on midfield elaboration, quick passing, and fluid attacking transitions. They were favorites to claim the trophy after a perfect showing in the first stage of qualifying.

However the team turned out to be what Brazilians call a Paraguayan horse, and fizzled out in the second stage. It took a draw in their last game against Peru to qualify for Turkey.

Even so, Chile is not to be underestimated in the slightest. At full tilt they are sure to be one of the most dangerous teams in the competition. One area where improvement is needed is their disciplinary record. Seven red cards (eight if you count the one given to Mario Salas) in nine qualifying games doesn’t make for good reading.

Chile’s attacking threat is what stands out the most, but their defensive organisation is equally impressive. At the back Valber Huerta and Igor Lichnovsky of Universidad de Chile lead the last line of defence. There is sure to be many a striker left feeling helpless and frustrated by the formidable centreback pairing.

Higher up the pitch it’s easy to see why Chile is so good going forward. In front of the defence another La U product, Sebastian Martinez, is the team’s metronome while Cristian Cuevas provides pace and trickery on the left flank. Bryan Rabello is the side’s main creative presence. Not only is he the reference point for midfield play, but he dribbles and takes set-pieces well.

Nicolas Castillo up front is in the Swiss Army knife mold of strikers. He is strong, combative, finishes well both on the ground and in the air, and combines well with his teammates. Castillo was the starting striker for Chile in qualifying but he will most likely by usurped by a more talented newcomer in Angelo Henriquez.

The man known as Gohan from his time in Chile was prohibited from taking part in qualifying by his club, Manchester United. After spending the early stages of his European career getting acquainted with more benches than pitches, he’ll be eager to show off his prodigious skills on the world stage.

Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > Säo Paulo


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Paraguayan Division Profesional Wrap: Champions Nacional continue to falter

Nacional Asuncion´s faltering finish to the Paraguayan Division Profesional has continued with a 2-1 loss to Sol de America.

Paraguayan midfielder Edgardo Orzuza struck the winner for Sol de America with 10 minutes remaining against visiting champions Nacional, helping the home side up to seventh in the Division Profesional standings.

Sol de America opened the scoring on Saturday with a penalty from Argentine midfielder Sergio Escalante in the 26th minute but Nacional equalised six minutes later through forward Angel Orue.

But after the visitors lost Julian Benitez to a second yellow card in the 76th minute, Sol de America pushed for victory and clinched the three points through Orzuza´s 80th-minute goal.

Despite having already wrapped up the league title, Nacional are in terrible form having succumbed to their third consecutive loss in their clash with Sol de America.

In fact, Nacional have only collected three points from a possible 15 in their past five matches in Paraguay´s top tier of football.

In the final game of the round on Monday, third-placed Libertad also suffered a shock loss, going down 2-0 at home to Sportivo Luqueno.

On Sunday, second-placed Guarani drew 1-1 away to Deportivo Carapegua.

Luqueno´s victory continues their strong finish to the season and sees them climb to ninth out of 12 clubs with the capital club having claimed five wins and a draw in their past six matches.

In other results, General Diaz won 3-1 away to Cerro Porteno PF, while Cerro Porteno drew 2-2 with Rubio Nu.
Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > Säo Paulo


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Peruvian Primera Division Wrap: Real Garcilaso stalk leaders Universitario

Real Garcilaso remain in the box seat in the Peruvian Primera Division with a 4-2 win over Inti Gas leaving them second with two games in hand.

Alfredo Ramua and Ricardo Ramos both scored in the final 20 minutes as Garcilaso overcame a stubborn Inti Gas outfit, with the winners moving into second on 37 points from 18 matches.

Inti Gas stunned Garcilaso in the 11th minute on Sunday, as Daniel Sanchez curled a free-kick in off the underside of the bar to give the visitors the lead.

Garcilaso were level in the 21st minute when Mauricio Montes headed home from inside the six-yard box, following a flicked-on corner, and two minutes later Ricardo Uribe put the hosts in front, rounding Inti Gas goalkeeper Mario Villasanti for an easy tap in.

Inti Gas had a goal ruled out for offside in the 35th minute but with five minutes remaining before half-time, the visitors shocked Garcilaso again thanks to Julio Landauri´s long-range blast.

After a tough start to the second half with few scoring chances, Garcilaso finally broke through again when Ramua struck his free-kick into the top corner in the 70th minute and although the home side were denied by the woodwork soon after, they wrapped up the win with a minute remaining when Ramos scored from Montes´ through-ball.

While the top tier of Peruvian football will not finish until mid-August, Garcilaso are steadily improving their chances of winning the title as they sit just one point behind leaders Universitario (38), who have played two more games so far this season.

Sporting Cristal (36 points from 20 games), Alianza Lima (34 from 21) and Cesar Vallejo (33 from 21) complete the top five in the standings.

Garcilaso remain favourites for the championship, although their games in hand - which were postponed due to the Copa Libertadores - are not easy ones, as they are set to face Universitario and Cristal.

Universitario remain top of the league after a 1-0 win over Alianza thanks to Christopher Gonzales´ strike from the edge of the area in the 69th minute, while Cristal also had a win over the weekend, overcoming Leon de Huanuco 3-1, and Cesar Vallejo drew 1-1 with Sport Huancayo.

In other results, Juan Aurich won 1-0 away to Union Comercio, Jose Galvez defeated Cienciano 3-2, Universidad San Martin triumphed 3-1 over Pacifico and Melgar played out a scoreless draw with UTC Cajamarca.
Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > Säo Paulo


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Ecuador Primera A Wrap: Emelec stay clear

Emelec have triumphed 1-0 away to Deportivo Cuenca to stay top of Ecuador´s Primera A despite ongoing pressure from LDU Quito.

An impressive bicycle kick from Cristian Nasuti gave Emelec victory in Cuenca, maintaining the league leaders´ three-point margin over LDU, who defeated El Nacional 1-0 thanks to Edison Mendez´s thunderous strike.

With just two rounds to go, Emelec have 41 points at the top of the Primera A standings but LDU (38 points) and Independiente (36) remain in contention.

In Cuenca, the ninth-placed hosts made Emelec work on Sunday but the table-toppers eventually claimed all three points in the 74th minute.

After Cuenca´s goalkeeper failed to properly deal with a free-kick curled towards his goal and simply punched the ball into a melee of players, Emelec´s Marcos Mondaini headed the ball to Nasuti, who flipped acrobatically to strike the ball into the net.

In Quito on Saturday, LDU temporarily moved level with Emelec on points with Mendez ensuring victory over El Nacional with a 35-yard thunderbolt in the 24th minute.

Independiente also won over the weekend to keep their slim title hopes alive, overcoming fourth-placed Deportivo Quito 2-0.

In other Primera A results, Macara defeated Manta 1-0, reigning champions Barcelona won 3-1 over LDU Loja and Universidad Catolica were 2-0 winners at home to Deportivo Quevedo.
Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > Säo Paulo


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Colombian Primera A Wrap: Medina magic spares Santa Fe´s blushes

A clever Wilder Medina strike gave Santa Fe a 1-0 win over Once Caldas to keep them on track for consecutive Apertura titles in Colombia.

http://www.youtube.com/w…dO6hQAR5hBg

Santa Fe moved to the top of Group A in the semi-final stage of the Colombian Primera A´s first half of the season thanks to their win over Once, while reigning Clausura champions Millonarios slipped off the pace after a 1-0 loss to Deportivo Cali.

http://www.youtube.com/w…TtNFoLKxyZY

In Santa Fe, the home side took the points when Omar Perez released Medina with a lofted pass over Once´s defence.

With the visitors´ goalkeeper Jose Cuadrado moving to cover his near post, Medina struck first time with the outside of his right boot to send the ball across the 28-year-old custodian and in off the post.

The victory took Santa Fe to seven points halfway through the semi-final stage, while Deportivo Cali moved into second with their victory against Millonarios.

In the 28th minute, Andres Perez turned on the edge of the box and blasted the ball home for Cali as the home side rose to five points in Group A.

In Group B, Deportes Tolima remain top of the standings despite their 2-1 loss to Atletico Nacional, while Deportivo Pasto are second after a 3-2 win away to Itagui.

http://www.youtube.com/w…XZ-HiZtSLgE

http://www.youtube.com/w…Xa-0IxewDBc


The top team from each semi-final group will qualify for the Apertura final.

Each team has three games to go in the semi-final stage.
Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > Säo Paulo


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colombiansk sejr på 1-0 over tyrkiet.
Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > Säo Paulo


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