Monday, February 14, 2011

Up into the Andes the fresh South American champions produced familiar name – Alianza (Lima) won the national championship, and Alianza was and is one of the steadiest strong clubs in Peru. Not really hegemonic, but constantly among the top clubs of the league.
The club is old too – founded in 1901. ‘Los intimos’, as one of their nicknames goes, won their first championship in 1918. In 1975 they won their 15th Peruvian title. Although Peruvian stars were going to play abroad for years, Alianza managed to keep good players in its squad – at least until they decided to make better pay elsewhere. The result of that: Alianza never went beyond the semi-finals at Copa Libertadores, so far having to be satisfied with success at home.
Top, left to right: Jose Gonzales Ganoza, Moises Palacios, Julio Ramirez, Jose Velasquez, Salvador Salguero, Jaime Duarte.
Bottom: Carlos Gomez Laynez, Augusto Palacios, Juan Rivero, Juan Jose Avalos, Miguel Calderon.
Jose Velasquez is the best known player outside Peru and perhaps the biggest star of the team, but I should mention another man: Augusto Palacios. He appears in Simon Kuper’s book ‘Soccer Against The Enemy’ as somewhat odd figure (if not an outright impostor) – Kuper chatted with him in 1992, when Palacios was coaching the national team of South Africa. In the absurd life of South Africa, Palacios of course was a bizarre case – a black man, married to white woman, and coaching in the country before the end of the apartheid. But Kuper questions Palacios’ claim of playing for the national team of Peru. Was the Peruvian boasting or not is hardly that important: as a player, he was never famous outside Peru. As a coach, he was a real globetrotter – he managed to work from Hong Kong to (West) Germany, with stops in Finland and Venezuela, before coasting at South Africa. Simon Kuper may find Palacios amusing nutcase, but the oddity was a champion in 1975.