Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Down the South American line information becomes scarcer and scarcer, particularly pictorial information. However, there was something interesting at the very bottom. Portuguesa FC won the Venezuelan championship. The club from the agricultural capital of Venezuela – Acarigua – was founded in 1972. A baby, in a sense, but they won their first title in 1973. Not many clubs in the world win championships in their second year of existence, especially in the 1970s, when hierarchies were established for a long time already. It was not just accidental victory either – in 1977 Portuguesa won its 4th title, third consecutive as well. Some babies!

The Venezuelan league was small – only 12 clubs – but, following the South
American pattern, the championship was complicated affair of three stages. The culmination was two-legged final between the first and second from the 6-team championship playoff group (second stage). Portuguesa won every tournament, beating their competitors Estudiantes (Merida) in both final matches – 4-2 in Merida, and 3-0 in Acarigua. Portuguesa played a total of 34 championship games, losing only 3 matches during the campaign. In the first standard league stage they left the nearest pursuer, Deportivo Italia, 8 points behind. Clearly supreme squad. The best goalscorer of the championship was also Portuguesa player – Juan Cesar Silva with 20 goals.
Four titles in 5 years of existence – what a record! Of course, names of players mean nothing... like everywhere in South America, Venezuelan football had plenty of imports and foreigners more or less dictated the fate of their clubs. They were fairly unknown players, though – except for Brazilian striker playing for the champions. Here he is, second in the first row – Jairzinho. Already 33 years old and a pale shadow of his glory days, nevertheless, a world famous star. Did he really made a difference, or not – doesn't matter. Portuguese was proud to have a legendary name in its squad – and to add one more title. May be Jairzinho was very happy too – world champion he was, but on club level he had few titles. Venezuelan championship was may be weak and not glamorous, but... a title is a title. Jairzinho won and... left the club, returning to Brazil. Portuguesa stayed where they were, of course – on top. On top of the bottom, one may say, but who cares – just recall their date of birth.