Chapecoense arrive in Venezuela for Copa Libertadores debut
Chapecoense arrived in Venezuela on Monday for their Copa Libertadores Group 7 game against Zulia after first international commercial flight since the plane crash in November which killed almost the entire Brazilian team and staff.
The Brazil club have signed 22 new players since the tragic crash and will make their Copa Libertadores debut against Zulia in Maracaibo on Tuesday.
Only six of the 77 people who had travelled for the final against Atletico Nacional survived, including three players -- goalkeeper Jackson Follmann, defender Neto and winger Alan Ruschel.
Chapecoense have included Neto and Ruschel in the list of eligible players for Tuesday's match, according to Brazil media. The two trained with the club over the weekend in Brazil.
It will be the club's first match on foreign soil since the tragic plane crash that killed 71 people, including 19 players. A total of 23 players and personnel travelled from Chapeco with layovers in Sao Paulo and Panama but with the memory of the failed charter still fresh in their minds, they opted for a commercial flight.
"After everything that has happened we must continue as a club, I think it is what our [deceased] players would have wanted," Chapecoense forward Tulio de Melo said. "We know what the other players have done for this club and now we are going to play in our first Copa Libertadores match. For us this is very important."
Chapecoense president Plinio David De Nes spoke to the media upon arrival in Maracaibo, where the team will also be under the direction of their new coach, Vagner Mancini.
"We are very happy to be able to return to our normal activities which is the practice of football," he said. "And here we are with great satisfaction and great joy. And we have been received with so much human warmth here by the representatives of the Governor of Zulia state.
"And to all the local athletes, a great hug from us, of the Chape. The Chape are a team who are very proud to participate, for the first time, in the Copa Libertadores. We are going to face a very tough team which has a lot of courage, Zulia."
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