Sports Pereira lives the biggest dream of its 78 years of history. Already last year he had a kind of dress rehearsal, when he reached the final of the Copa Colombia. The 5-0 in the first leg dampened the party a bit, but the ‘matecaña’ fan enjoyed an experience that he had never had before.
Now, a year later, the team is 180 minutes away from its first star, the one that escaped it with a great team in 1974 and the one it inexplicably lost in 1982, when three dates after finishing the octagonal they were fighting for the title against América and they lost two games against Nacional and Millonarios, the latter, with two penalties that Alberto Pedro Vivalda, the blue goalkeeper, saved against Sergio Santín and Miguel Ángel Manzi.
Today, with a practically novice coach in soccer, Alejandro Restrepo (the same one that won them the Cup with Nacional a year ago) and with a roster that is not among the best in the country, but with a commitment to all tests, Pereira is one point away from going to his first international tournament. It is the only team of the 14 traditional Dimayor that has never played a Conmebol tournament.
“The feeling I have is very emotional. A lot of pride for these human beings, that’s why Jhonny Vásquez is here. A barbaric group of human beings, who from the moment we arrived understood our idea, threw’ at all times with us, despite have many difficulties, which everyone knows and lives the day of the club” explained Restrepo after qualifying.
“We were getting stronger, based on honor, on the desire for glory, to be better, but above all to bring a town to a community to a joy like this,” he added.
Pereira found one of his strengths in the finals at the Hernán Ramírez Villegas stadium. After a defeat against Envigado, which put their classification at risk, they then tied with Nacional and beat their three rivals in the home run, Junior, Millonarios and Santa Fe, the latter, with a 5-1 score that excited the entire city.
“Pereira is a very beautiful city, very soccer-oriented, a city that appreciates it when it sees that people make an effort. Giving him this joy comforts us a lot,” Restrepo said.
The other thing that Pereira has is a true scorer, a man of the house who came from gray hours at Independiente Medellín due to injuries. Leonardo Castro has 14 goals in the semester and 23 in the year and those goals feed the dream of the club.
It has not been an easy year for Pereira from the administrative point of view. The company that manages it was liquidated and handed over to its creditors, something that even generated a complaint from Patriotas, who wanted to bring it down on the desk. But Pereira is alive. With fighters like Vásquez, Castro, Harlen Castillo, Pecoso Correa, Juan Pablo Zuluaga and young people hungry for victory, the goal is the star.
Jose Orlando Ascencio
sports deputy editor
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