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SPORTS | 08-11-2019 11:16

Colón dare to dream as they prepare for historic Copa Sudamericana final

Santa Fe side has arrived in Paraguayan capital, where they hope to make history against Ecuador's Independiente del Valle in the final of the Copa Sudamericana.

Club Atlético Colón, more commonly referred to as Colón de Santa Fe, and Ecuador's Independiente del Valle go head-to-head on Saturday night in Asunción, as both sides search for their first continental title in their history.

The Argentine side will enter uncharted territory as they contest the final of the Copa Sudamericana, in more ways than one – as well as being the match being Colón's first final in an international title, it's their first true final in 114 years of existence (the club's only honours to date is the Primera B title in 1965 and a Torneo de Honor title in 1950). 

It's also the first time the Copa Sudamericana final will be contested on a Saturday since the tournament was introduced in 2002.

Independiente del Valle haven't challenged for this title before either, though they did make the Copa Libertadores final in 2016, when they lost a two-legged final against Atlético Nacional of Colombia. They will hoping experience counts on Saturday night.

One-off clash

Colón and Independiente del Valle will face each other in a one-off final at the 45,000-capacity Estadio General Pablo Rojas, or as it's less formally known the "La Olla Monumental" stadium, as they bid for the second-most prestigious club competition in South American football.

The crowd is expected to be dominated by fans of the Santa Fe side, who have significantly less distance to travel. 

Colón's squad arrived in Paraguay on Wednesday at 4.30pm local time, with coach Pablo Lavallén already urging his players to make history. Fans are expected to swamp the Paraguayan capital from Friday onwards, with around 40,000 fans of the Santa Fe side expected to travel the 10-12 hours needed to travel by car to the Paraguyan capital.

Tickets for the game sold out rapidly, with governing body CONMEBOL confirming the 30,000 tickets initially put on sale sold out rapidly. Another 10,000 tickets were put on sale yesterday.

By way of contrast, the Ecuadorean side said Wednesday they had return some 6,000 tickets from their allocation, after receiving around 10,000 tickets in total. At least 2,500 supporters of Independiente del Valle have confirmed their trips.

'We come for glory'

 

It's not overkill to describe this game as the most important game in the Colón's history – and the club's officials say the same.

"We do not come for money, we come for glory," said Horacio Darrás, the club's director, on Wednesday.

 

Lavallén, highlighting that 40 days have passed since their semi-final win on penalties, said Thursday that his players have experienced "great days of anxiety," with many repeatedly dreaming of the final over and over.

"The time has come and we will have to face it," he added.

Independiente's coach, Spaniard Miguel Angel Ramírez, promised his side would go for victory from the off.

"We will not wait for anyone. We will go out and impose our game. We want to be protagonists both in defense and in attack," he declared.

"We arrived with a little more maturity. You learn from experience of having starred in a final like the Libertadores. Let's see what happens," he observed.

'Game of my life'

If Colón are to emerge with the title, key to their hopes will be 'La Pulga' – no, not Lionel Messi, that other legendary number 10, Luis Miguel Rodríguez.

The veteran Argentine playmaker, who at age 14 was once on trial with Real Madrid, is a icon for Colón – and he's hoping to make history.

"This will be the game of my life," the Tucumán-born admitted on Thursday.

Rodríguez has been decisive in Colón's run to the final – he scored crucial penalties against Atlético Mineiro of Brazil to help his side into the final – and he is hoping for one more chance to sway the game his side's way.

The match

Whatever happens in the game, the match should be decided on Saturday night. If the scores are level after 90 minutes, there will be extra time, followed by penalties.

Kick off is at 5.30pm local time, with Brazilian Raphael Claus the referee.

Probable line-ups:

Colón: Leonardo Burián - Alex Vigo, Guillermo Ortiz, Emanuel Olivera, Gonzalo Escobar - Fernando Zuqui, Federico Lértora, Rodrigo Aliendro, Marcelo Estigarribia - Luis Rodríguez and Wilson Morelo. Coach: Pablo Lavallén.

Independiente del Valle: Jorge Pinos - Anthony Landázuri, Richard Schunke, Luis Segovia, Angelo Preciado - Cristian Pellerano, Cristian Dájome, Alan Franco, Efrén Mera - Jhon Sánchez and Gabriel Torres. Coach: Miguel Ramírez.

by TIMES/AFP

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