CF Monterrey touched down at the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2012 determined to improve on their debut showing in 2011, when they fell short of their own expectations by coming fifth. Having done so by reaching the semi-finals, where they met English side Chelsea, a few careless minutes just after the break allowed the then UEFA Champions League holders to race into a 3-0 lead – eventually reduced to 3-1 – and prevent Los Rayados from being the first CONCACAF side to reach the competition’s final. Even so, the Mexican club had achieved their stated minimum goal and they went on to finish third, thus equalling the best-ever performance of a team from the North, Central America and Caribbean Zone at the tournament.
Victor Vucetich’s charges are all set to be CONCACAF’s representatives at the global showpiece for a third year in a row, a statistic which should mean they have enough experience to handle a tournament where every error can prove fatal. Additional strong points in their favour are the prolific strike duo of Aldo de Nigris and Chile’s Humberto Suazo, and a cohesive team of players that know each other’s games inside out.
“I think that, because of the way it played out, this is an extraordinary triumph. The Club World Cup is both a blessing and the reward for our hard work,” said Vucetich after his third CONCACAF Champions League success since taking the Monterrey helm in 2009. “My players have loads of experience and they’ve not lost their hunger to win either,” added the coach, also a winner of two domestic titles with Los Rayados.
Facts and figures
Francisco Javier Cruz (1984-88, 1999), Mario Mota ‘Bahía’ (1984-88), Misael Espinoza (1984-93), Jesus Arellano (1992-2011), Antonio de Nigris (1995-02), Guillermo Franco (2002-05), Luis Ernesto Perez (2003-2012), Humberto Suazo (2007-2009 / 2010-present).
Aldo de Nigris (forward), Humberto Suazo (forward), Cesar Delgado (forward), Walter Ayovi (defender), Jonathan Orozco (goalkeeper).
Monterrey topped Group 7 in the CONCACAF Champions League in impeccable style, scoring 15 goals and conceding none while winning all four games. After overcoming surprise packages Xelaju 4-2 on aggregate in the quarter-finals and LA Galaxy 3-1 in the semis, Los Rayados came up against countrymen Santos in a repeat of the 2012 title decider. Following a 0-0 draw in the first leg in Monterrey, Los Regiomontanos fired three late goals to clinch an epic 4-2 comeback win in Torreon.
The numbers game
42 – The number of years that have passed since a team won three consecutive CONCACAF Champions League crowns, with Mexico’s Cruz Azul the last to achieve the feat in 1969-1971. What is more, Monterrey are the first team to do so in the competition’s current format.