Thursday 21 September 2017

Chapecoense win their first title since plane crash which killed 19 players

Credit - Chapecoense Twitter account
Credit - Chapecoense Twitter account

Jack O'Toole

Brazilian Serie A side Chapecoense have claimed their first trophy since last year's LaMia Flight 2933 which killed 71 of 77 people on board, including 19 of the club's players and their coach Luiz Carlos Saroli.

Chapecoense were travelling across the continent for their Copa Sudamericana final against Atletico Nacional last November, who they will now coincidentally face on Wednesday in the Recopa Sul Americana final, but before they travel to Colombia to face Nacional, they will celebrate their Catarinão championship win over Avai which was the first piece of silverware the club have claimed since last year's fatal crash.

Chape lifted the Santa Catarina state championship on Sunday after a 1-0 loss to Avai was enough to see them claim the Catarinão for the second consecutive season.

Chape's 1-0 victory in the first leg meant that they boasted a better record than Avai over the course of the season, and thus, was enough to see the club claim the championship.

Chapecoense manager Vagner Mancini dedicated his side's victory to the club's deceased former players with Mancini claiming that their triumph was unprecedented given the circumstances that the club were in just five months ago.

"We knew that Chape would have a lot of difficulties because of the rebuilding of the team, but because of the work, we reached the title, beating opponents who are rivals and difficult to beat," Mancini told the club's website.

"And I want to exalt not only what was done in the field, but also to exalt the work of all the people that form the Department of Soccer in Chapecoense, because this is unprecedented in the world.

"You have to rebuild a team and win a title after four months, having all stats as better (...) Chape has arrived with great justice to the title."

A host of clubs from across South America offered their players on loan to Chapecoense after the crash, with a number of high profile internationals, including two-time FIFA World Player of the Year winner Ronaldinho reportedly offering his services for free.

Chape never brought in Ronaldinho, or former Argentina international Juan Román Riquelme, who was also linked with the club, but they did bring in 25 new players this season and promoted nine from their youth team.

Chapecoense will now head to Colombia where they will face Atletico Nacional team for the second leg of the Recopa Sul Americana final.

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