Atletico’s Aguilar to honor Chapecoense at Club WCup

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Rep­re­sent­ing South Amer­ica at the Club World Cup has added sig­nif­i­cance fol­low­ing the plane crash that killed most of the Chapecoense team, Atletico Na­cional de­fender Felipe Aguilar said yes­ter­day. The Colom­bian club was to play Chapecoense in the Copa Su­damer­i­cana fi­nal but the Brazil­ian team’s plane crashed on Nov. 28, killing al­most all on board.

The di­rec­tors of Atletico asked the gov­ern­ing body of South Amer­i­can soc­cer to award the Copa Su­damer­i­cana ti­tle to Chapecoense.

“We felt like brothers to the Brazil­ian team.” Aguilar said. “And all of us were very happy to give them the Copa Su­damer­i­cana ti­tle. It’s un­for­tu­nate this huge tragedy has oc­curred. We want to honor the vic­tims and their fam­i­lies by win­ning this tro­phy and bring­ing it home.”

Atletico coach Reinaldo Rueda shared the sen­ti­ments of his 23-year-old de­fender. “Th­ese past few weeks have no doubt been dif­fi­cult,” Rueda said. “Chapecoense are our brothers. We must win it for them.”

Na­cional qual­i­fied for the Club World Cup by win­ning the Copa Liberda­tores in July. They take on Ja­panese cham­pion Kashima Antlers today.

Kashima has al­ready knocked out Auck­land City and Mamelodi Sun­downs. “They’re a team who play with a lot of in­ten­sity,” Rueda said. “They’re well or­ga­nized, strong on the coun­ter­at­tack and they’ll give us a very phys­i­cal game.”

The win­ner of today’s semi­fi­nal match will likely face Euro­pean cham­pion Real Madrid in Sun­day’s fi­nal in Yokohama. Madrid faces Mex­i­can team Club Amer­ica in the other semi­fi­nal. Euro­pean teams have been the most suc­cess­ful in the tour­na­ment, with eight ti­tles, al­though it is not con­sid­ered as high on the pri­or­ity list for Euro­pean clubs as it is for the South Amer­i­can sides. Atletico Na­cional fea­tures goal­keeper Franco Ar­mani, who did not con­cede a sin­gle goal dur­ing the group stage of the Copa Lib­er­ta­dores, as well as cap­tain Alexis Hen­riquez and striker Miguel Borja. “We are rep­re­sent­ing all the clubs of South Amer­ica and it is a huge re­spon­si­bil­ity on our shoul­ders,” Rueda said. “Back in Colom­bia and even here in Ja­pan many peo­ple are sup­port­ing us and that give us great en­ergy.” — AP

OSAKA: Colom­bian foot­ball team Atletico Na­cional player Felipe Aguilar (R) speaks be­side head coach Reinaldo Rueda (L) dur­ing his team’s of­fi­cial press con­fer­ence for the Club World Cup at the Suita City Foot­ball sta­dium in Osaka yes­ter­day. — AFP

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