Sunday was a forgettable day for Pachuca, who lost 1-0 at home to ten-man Tigres in the first leg of their play-off quarter-final. It is one Los Tuzos’ No110 will nonetheless remember for a long time.
For although Andres Chitiva wants to erase the memory of the result, he was touched by the fans’ fervent calling for his introduction from the bench, which transpired in the 80th minute.
The 32-year-old Colombian, a club legend who has helped Pachuca win a Copa Sudamericana, three CONCACAF Champions’ Cups, a North American SuperLiga and four domestic championships since arriving in Hidalgo in 2001, was making his first appearance of the Apertura campaign following a niggling injury.
“The cries around the whole stadium asking for my introduction is something I will never forget,” enthused the exciting winger. “I’m really grateful to the fans because ever since I arrived here, they’ve supported me.
“It’s been a really difficult campaign, but I’ve never stopped working to regain my fitness and be available when needed. Unfortunately we couldn’t get the result we wanted.
“The outcome left us sad, because we played a good game and had our chances. At the least we didn’t deserve to lose. We didn’t expect it, but this is now a good challenge and we must give it everything out on the pitch on Sunday.”
Tigres beat Pachuca 5-0 in their last meeting in September, when 31-year-old Chilean Hector Mancilla - the solitary scorer on Sunday - hit a hat-trick. That, coupled with the fact Ricardo Ferretti’s side finished third in the regular-season standings, three places above their upcoming visitors, means they will be the overwhelming favourites to advance to the semi-finals.
However, the diminutive Chitiva has urged Pachuca to rip up the script at a ground nicknamed El Volcán (The Volcano).
“Tigres are very tough opponents, but Pachuca should not feel intimidated,” insisted the former Millonarios man. “We have 90 crucial minutes to prove we’re a good team who have worked hard to get here and will not go down without a fight.”