Pachuca once again looking to rebound from hard times
05.08.02 - After winning their second title in three years in the 2001 Invierno, Pachuca CF fell on hard times in the Verano, failing to reach the liguilla after losing six of their final nine league matches.
But despite the poor performance, there has been little change to the Tuzos squad – including the return of Alfredo Tena, who took over as coach when Javier Aguirre was named technical director of the Mexican national team little more than a year ago.
The first title, won in the 1999 Invierno, came in their centenary season, and was then followed by a third-place finish in the FC Champions Cup in their first attempt at continental honors. But just as last year, hard times followed then too – Pachuca finished 16th of 18 teams in the 2000 Verano before rebounding the next season.
Colombian international Miguel Calero, ever-present in the 2002 Verano, returns for his third year between the three posts, behind an experienced back four.
Mexican international central defender Manuel Vidrio signed with CA Osasuna following the World Cup, joining former Pachuca and national team boss Javier Aguirre. So the club quickly moved to snatch rugged Ignacio Hierro from Atlante FC, who has also been in and out of the national team picture.
Hierro will likely team up with another sometime international in elegant Francisco Gabriel de Anda, though Israel Velasquez became a regular in the role as well during the Verano. Alberto Rodriguez (right) and Marco Sanchez Yacuta (left) provide good pace and a willingness to join the attack from their fullback roles. Veteran Luis Alfonso Sosa will again anchor the midfield from his holding role, in his 17th season in the top flight.
A pair of South Americans play the wider roles in the center of the park. Venezuelan international Juan Arango, whose five goals led Pachuca in the Verano, plays on the right while quicksilver attacker Andres Chitiva of Colombia will be on the left. 21-year-old Sergio Santana, who scored nine goals over both halves of the season, will also make a claim for a spot. But Argentinian-born World Cup midfielder Gabriel Caballero, who became a naturalized citizen in early 2002, moved to Atlas.
One half of the attacking duo is solid, with Walter Silvani hoping to rebound from the injuries that limited him to eight matches in the Verano after scoring 14 goals in the 2001 Invierno. His partner in attack could be either Arango or Chitiva – or Cesareo Victorino, who has returned to Pachuca looking for revindication. A contract dispute saw him eventually exiled to Cruz Azul for the 2001-02 season, where he failed to show the form that led to eight goals in the 2001 Verano.
Honduras international Milton Nuñez is cup-tied, joining Pachuca from CSD Comunicaciones of Guatemala, while Paraguayan forward Hugo Brizuela has also left the club, but another attacking option is naturalized Argentinian Martin Boasso, released by CDF Irapuato last season.