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Chapecoense surivors lift Copa Sudamericana trophy in honour of team

News Agencies | Updated on: 11 February 2017, 5:46 IST

The three surviving players of the air crash two months ago that killed 19 members of Brazil's Chapecoense soccer club lifted the Copa Sudamericana trophy on Saturday in honor of their dead teammates.

The moving moment came just before the rebuilt side played its first match since the Nov. 28 tragedy, drawing 2-2 with defending Brazilian champion Palmeiras in a charity game.

The most emotional scene came when goalkeeper Jackson Follmann, who survived the crash but had part of his right leg amputated, lifted the trophy while seated in a wheelchair.

Defender Neto, who survived under the plane wreckage for almost 10 hours, also held the trophy in front of 20,000 fans at Chapecoense's sold-out Arena Conda stadium, as did winger Alan Ruschel.

All three were in tears during the ceremony. Family members of the victims also broke down crying as they were awarded medals.

Chapecoense was awarded the trophy following the disaster, a move backed by Colombian club Atletico Nacional, which was scheduled to face Chapecoense in the Copa Sudamericana final.

Another survivor - radio journalist Rafael Henzel - announced the friendly match in a return to the broadcast booth.

The southern Brazilian city of Chapeco, just a short drive from the Argentine border, spent weeks in anticipation of yesterday's match.

Former Chapecoense player Janca said the grief is still there, and fans aren't convinced by the new signings. But the hotdog vendor said he was still happy to see football back in the city of 200,000.

"It is just unbelievable that they managed to rebuild the entire team, and the club board in such a short time," Janca said, as he prepared his hot dogs while listening to his radio - an old present from one of the crash victims. "It will take some time until people trust the new players, but there will surely be support for that."

Doubts about the quality of the team surfaced immediately when Palmeiras scored the first goal on 11 minutes. But that didn't last long. Two minutes later new defender Douglas Grolli, who once trained at Chapecoense's academy, leveled the score.


First published: 22 January 2017, 9:42 IST