Founded in early 1930 by a group of students and their professors, Liga Deportiva Universitaria Quito are now, 78 years later, firmly established as Ecuador's biggest club. And recent years have seen the nine-time league title winners make an increasing impact on the continental stage, with a semi-final appearance in the 2004 Copa Sudamericana and their historic recent triumph in the 2008 Copa Libertadores. Los Albos have also played a crucial role in the progress made by Ecuador's national teams, having supplied many of the players involved in the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™ campaign and the gold-medal winning squad at the Pan-American Games 2007.
A relatively meagre annual budget of $6m did not prevent coach Edgardo Bauza's side from winning the first Copa Libertadores de America title in Ecuadorian football history. On the back of wins over such continental heavyweights as Estudiantes de La Plata and San Lorenzo of Argentina, Mexican big spenders America and Brazil's Fluminense, Liga de Quito will deservedly be amongst the competitors at this December's FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2008. Their feat is even more admirable when you consider they sealed the Libertadores crown against Fluminense in the final second leg at Rio de Janeiro's mythical Estadio Maracana, Bauza's men holding their nerve in the penalty shootout after a 5-5 aggregate scoreline.
"Winning the Copa Libertadores was a huge source of pride for Liga fans and Ecuador as a whole. But we're not going to rest on our laurels now we've made history. We want to go even further: the experience of playing in Japan against the best in the world is beyond compare," said captain Patricio Urrutia. And having confounded the pundits by going all the way to Libertadores glory, who would back against Los Albos to repeat the feat on Japanese soil?
Facts and figures
Roberto Ortega, Jose Maria Ocampo, Polo Carrera, Danilo Samaniego, Neicer Reasco.
Jose Cevallos (goalkeeper), Patricio Urrutia (midfielder), Luis Bolanos (midfielder), Claudio Bieler (forward), Agustin Delgado (forward).
On their way to winning South America's most prestigious club trophy, Liga de Quito won five games, drew five and lost four, scoring 21 times and conceding 15 in the process. With five strikes to his name, Luis Bolanos was the team's top scorer.
The numbers game
3 - The number of penalties saved by Jose Cevallos in the decisive shootout against Fluminense in the Maracana, a shootout that ended in Libertadores victory for the Quito outfit.