After struggling for many years to maintain their top-flight status, Mexico's Pachuca finally put down roots in the first division in 1998. Their first title followed just a year later and they have been serial trophy collectors on both the domestic and CONCACAF stages ever since. In fact, their thirst for silverware spread even beyond regional boundaries in 2006, Los Tuzos becoming the first club ever to win a continental trophy outside their own confederation by taking the CONMEBOL-organised Copa Sudamericana.
In 2007, Pachuca swept all before them in the CONCACAF Champions Cup to seal a place at that year's FIFA Club World Cup Japan. Once on Far Eastern soil, coach Enrique Meza's charges were edged out early on by Tunisian surprise packages Etoile Sportive du Sahel, undoubtedly Pachuca's biggest disappointment of an otherwise successful year.
After their surprisingly swift exit from Japan 2007, Meza's men vowed to learn from their mistakes and earn another shot at the world showpiece. True to their word, Los Tuzos regrouped and won their third CONCACAF Champions Cup trophy after a closely contested final clash against Costa Rica's Saprissa, who themselves had finished third at Japan 2005. The Mexicans' 3-2 aggregate success only served to underline their status as a dominant force on the regional scene. Can they make the required step up in quality come December's global event?
"After we were knocked out in Japan last year, we swore we'd return and set the record straight. We weren't expecting to exit the competition so quickly, but we've learned our lesson well. Let's hope we can prove that by putting in a better performance," said Colombian keeper Miguel Calero, the Pachuca skipper, after their 2008 CONCACAF Champions Cup success.
Facts and figures
Pablo Hernan Gomez (1999-2001), Miguel Calero (2002-present), Manuel Vidrio (1998-2005), Gabriel Caballero (1998-present).
Miguel Calero (goalkeeper), Gabriel Caballero (midfielder), Damian Alvarez (midfielder) and Christian Gimenez (forward).
Pachuca had to play six matches on their way to successfully defending their CONCACAF crown. They won three, drew two and lost one, scoring seven goals and conceding just one in the process.
The numbers game
1 - The number of games Pachuca have played at the FIFA Club World Cup. On 9 December 2007 in Tokyo, Los Tuzos were beaten 1-0 by Tunisia's Etoile Sportive du Sahel.
|12||Juan Carlos ROJAS|