Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Resigned To It - Angel Cappa

Adressing the fans directly via his blog ( Angel Cappa of Hurcán is now the ex-coach of Huracán. In the early hours of Tuesday morning he announced his resignation in a post titled 'Hasta Pronto'. His frustration has been building throughout the Apertura; the team, a mere shadow of the one which passed and thrilled it's way to runners-up spot in the last campaign has struggled to find any form and have managed just 2 victories.

Cappa offered his resignation a few weeks ago but was persuaded to stay on until December. Last Saturday's clasico defeat at home to San Lorenzo (0-2) and the die was cast. 'I can't say goodbye to Huracán' he begins 'It's been a privilege to be involved in and with the development of a team that will surely take it's place in the club's history and possibly occupy an important place in Argentine football'. Proud of his reputation as a coach who demands football to be played the right way he believes his crusade also has implications for the game as a whole - 'Argentine football found hope' {in Huracán}. It's easy to accuse him of having an over-inflated sense of his own self-worth, pretentious too; but those who witnessed them destroy River Plate and Racing with their tiki tiki quick passing game can understand why such claims are made.

What now? He'll be cheering on Huracán from the stands and hopefully the blog will continue. As for the team's star midfielder and Maradona saviour Mario Bolatti has already intimated that he'll be moving on, he told La Nacion 'It'll be very difficult for me to continue after December..........many things have happened since July but now is not the time to talk about them'.

Jesús Martínez - reserve team coach will take over in the interim, as for long term solutions president Carlos Babbington has alluded to Miguel Brindisi who's now out of work after coaching in Mexico - his salary demands may well exceed what el Globo can offer a fact already acknowledged by Babbington. Also in the frame is Diego Cocca ex of Godoy Cruz.

Huracán 4 - 0 River Plate

Racing 1 - 4 Huracán

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Copa Qualifiers

Bulletin No 4174 slipped out of AFA headquarters on the 17th July 2008, setting out amongst other things match schedules, relegation procedures and the colour of corner flags........ Hidden away in Section 7 of the document can be found the qualification criteria for the 2010 Copa Libertadores. Argentine clubs have 5 places available, one each for the winners of the Clasura and Apertura with the remaining places assigned to the three teams with the highest accumulated points totals throughout the previous two campaigns. Estudiantes qualified automatically as reigning Copa Libertadores champions. At time of writing Vélez have secured their place as Clasura champions, which leaves 4 places up for grabs, and a myriad of possibilities and combinations.

Eyes are inevitably drawn firstly to Boca (42 pts) and River (40 pts) both are virtually out of the running and will not be appearing in South America's lucrative club tournament. This will be the first time since 1992 that the competition has been without these two at the same time - expect tears from TV execs, CONMEBOL administrators and fans a like. Poised to take advantage of this situation are Corinthians of Brazil who are actively courting Boca's Juan Roman Riquelme, unlike his current club they can entice him with the prospect of Copa Libertadores football. The club may be forced to let him go (or force him to go) given fiscal constraints. River Plate have played more Copa Libertadores matches than any other Argentine club - outgoing president Aguilar's legacy will see them unable to add to their tally in 2010.

Of the teams that have a good chance of qualifying we find this campaign's leading scorers Colón of Santa Fe (62 pts) who've only ever appeared in one previous tournament in 1998. Lanús - currently 12th in the table but with an accumulated total of 55 points. Tight-fisted Apertura leaders Banfield (55 pts) who've only conceded 6 goals so far are also well placed. In what is a refreshing change two more teams from the provinces are challenging for places - Newell's (53 pts) and Rosario Central (49 pts) with the small matter of this weekends Rosario derby to come, Perversely Rosario Central were involved in the relegation play-offs only months ago. Huracán (48 pts) are paying for a poor Apertura and despite being runners-up to Vélez are now looking doubtful to secure a place amidst continued inconsistent form. El Globo take on Diego Simeone's San Lorenzo (47 pts) this weekend who themselves haven't won in three - the loser can kiss any dreams of intercontinental football goodbye for 2010. Finally rejuvenated and re-housed Independiente (47 pts) are still in with chance.

Roll on January.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Ortega Watch - Part VI

Ariel Ortega is travelling with the squad to Rosario to face Newell's in this evening's game. He wont be playing - coach Leo Astrada has decided that given his current personal problems and state of mind playing for River today would be of little benefit to the club or the player. Ortega's lengthy battle with alcoholism has taken many twists and turns over the years and last year saw him loaned out to Nacional B side Independiente Rivadavia of Mendoza - whilst receiving treatment in Chile. He returned to River in May and the demons recently returned, prior to last weekend's defeat at home to Lanús he requested that he didn't play and even made reference to hanging-up his boots for good.

Both Leo Astrada and club president José Maria Aguilar have met with the 35 year old this week which has resulted in yet another plan of treatment being devised. This will involve daily sessions as an 'out-patient' as opposed to a stay in a residential clinic. How times and approaches to problems like this have changed. I've recently read 'Blessed' George Best's autobiography - he documents the highs and deep despair of a sublimely talented alcoholic footballer. His problems were seen as a lack of self-discipline and treated as such -a fine here, a suspension there - they were never recognised as symptoms of his addiction. His periods not playing merely gave him more time and opportunity to indulge in the booze - a cry for help which was never answered by Manchester United. ' I think at the end of the day, if a player is doing the business for the club, then the club should make an effort when things go wrong. But no one ever did come' (Blessed - George Best). On this occasion River can't be accused of abandoning Ortega, on the contrary they're working to find a solution to it. The time is fast approaching when the club's duty of care towards Ortega is matched by the player's own sense of personal responsibility and his desire dry out.

RFA loves you El Burrito, get well and get fit.