After having spent much of their existence playing lower division football, the 21st century has seen Mexican side Pachuca become one of the most successful clubs both domestically and in the CONCACAF region. In fact, this will be the Latin Americans’ third appearance at the FIFA Club World Cup. Their two previous participations did not live long in the memory, however, with a shock quarter-final defeat by Tunisia’s Etoile Sportive du Sahel in 2007 and losses to Ecuadorian side Liga Universitaria de Quito and Japan’s Gamba Osaka in 2008 testimony to missed opportunities.
Could it be a case of third time lucky for Los Tuzos? They are certainly hopeful that the experience gained in those previous tournaments will stand them in good stead, as they look to become the first-ever CONCACAF team to reach the final of the prestigious global event. To achieve this goal, they will arrive in the UAE with a finely-balanced squad boasting both home-grown talent and high-profile foreign players. It would be no exaggeration to suggest that this is the best Pachuca side to have qualified for the FIFA Club World Cup, and that their desire to make a mark on the competition is keener than ever.
“I promise that we’ll keep winning – that’s our plan and my personal goal. I’d like us to arrive at the Club World Cup in the best possible form, as success in the competition is crucial to the club.” Those were the words of new Pachuca coach Pablo Marini upon his appointment in August of this year, and they echo the ambition of a group of players who have always dreamed of international recognition, but are aware that two glorious chances have already passed them by.
Facts and figures
Alberto Rodriguez (1994-2005), Hernan Medford (1994-1997), Pablo Hernan Gomez (1999-2001), Sergio Santana (2000-2005), Miguel Calero (2002-present), Manuel Vidrio (1998-2005), Gabriel Caballero (1998-2009), Juan Carlos Cacho (2004-2010), Christian Gimenez (2006-2009), Damian Alvarez (2006-2010).
The Hidalgo-based club lifted the CONCACAF Champions League trophy following a dramatic two-legged final victory over Cruz Azul. In front of their own supporters, Pachuca scored the winning goal in injury time of the return leg, thereby securing the continental crown for the fourth time in their history.
Pachuca’s record in qualifying was impressive, with eight wins, two draws and two defeats recorded in the 12 matches that they played. The Mexicans scored 22 goals and conceded just nine.
The numbers game
1 – The total number of games won by Pachuca at the FIFA Club World Cup. Their sole victory came in 2008, when they defeated then African champions Al Ahly by a score of 4-2. The three other matches in which the Mexican side have taken part at this level have all ended in disappointing losses.
|12||Juan Carlos ROJAS|