The Strongest champs or not???
Bolivia's Strongest win championship but not trophy
By Brian Homewood
RIO DE JANEIRO, July 14 (Reuters) - The Strongest won the Bolivian championship on Sunday but had to complete their lap of honour without the trophy because of a dispute over the nationality of one of their players.
Striker Otilino "Spiderman" Tenorio scored a hat-trick for Emelec in Ecuador while Colombia's championship kicked off on the same day that the national side faced Jamaica in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, depriving a number of teams of key players.
The Strongest won the Apertura championship on Sunday by drawing 2-2 away to Blooming but could still lose the title because of a dispute over midfielder Luis Cristaldo.
The players had to complete their lap of honour without a trophy after the Bolivian football league said it could not confirm the title because of the dispute, which is now considered a constitutional matter because it involves the nationality of one of their players.
Rival club Wilstermann claim that Cristaldo, who was born in Argentina but has Bolivian citizenship, should be considered a foreign player. They allege The Strongest have persistently broken rules which require teams to field seven players born in Bolivia per match.
The Strongest, who say that Cristaldo is Bolivian and point out that he has played for the national team, have taken the case to country's Consitutional Tribunal, which could take another six weeks to produce a verdict.
The Strongest president Sergio Asbun was defiant.
"I'm taking this title to my grave, no matter what happens over the Cristaldo case," he said.
The Strongest, who are unbeaten since Argentine coach Nestor Clausen took over two months ago, needed a 70th minute goal from Sandro Coelho to sneak a point after Joaquin Monasterio and Jose Loayza had given Blooming a 2-1 lead.
Argentine Ruben Dario Gigena had scored an early goal for The Strongest, who played with 10 men for 74 minutes after Herman Soliz was sent off.
The Strongest finished one point ahead of Bolivar, who beat Independiente Petrolero 2-1 with two goals from Miguel Mercado, the second in injury time.
Otilino "Spiderman" Tenorio scored a hat-trick to give defending champions Emelec their first win of the championship's second stage.
Tenorio, who earned his nickname because he celebrates his goals by dancing along the touchline wearing a Spiderman mask, struck twice in the first ten minutes and once in the second half to give the Electrics a 3-0 win over Manta.
This time, Tenorio changed his routine and celebrated with a mask decorated in blue and white, the club's colours.
Army club El Nacional lead the second stage with nine points from three games after coming from two goals down to beat local rivals Liga de Quito 3-2.
Paul Ambrossi and Franklin Salas gave the visitors a 2-0 lead before Cleber Chala, Evelio Ordonez and Edison Mendez hit back for El Nacional, who continued an impressive run under Serbian coach Dragan Miranovic.
The Finzalizacion, the second of the two championships played in the Colombian season, kicked off on the same day that the Colombia opened their Gold Cup campaign with a 1-0 win over Jamaica in Miami.
Consequently, most clubs were missing key players called up for the national side.
Deportivo Cali, one of the hardest hit teams, overcame the absences of four players, including Jairo Patino who scored Colombia's goal in Miami, and playmaker Giovanni Hernandez to win 2-1 at Atletico Huila.
Carlos Castillo and Leider Preciado scored for the visitors to give their eccentric coach Javier Alvarez, a one time chemical engineer and former Colombia coach, a winning start at his new club.
Sixteen-year-old Harold Romana replied for Huila.
Champions Caldas scrambled a 1-1 draw at home to Quindio as they kicked off the defence of their crown while Millonarios were beaten 1-0 by Union Magdalena, their first home defeat against the Santa Marta-based outfit since 1984.
Libertad beat Sol de America 2-0 and lead the Clausura, the second stage of the championship, with a maximum 12 points from their four games.
Guarani lost their 100 percent record when they were held 2-2 by Sportivo Luqueno.
Updated on Monday, Jul 14, 2003