Boca draw unknown opposition in 2005 Libertadores Cup
By Brian Homewood
ASUNCION, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Boca Juniors, winners in 2000, 2001 and 2003 and runners-up this year, were put in a group with three unknown opponents on Thursday in an unusual draw for the 2005 Libertadores Cup.
Organisers laid on an elaborate ceremony, complete with celebrities pulling balls from large pods in time-honoured style, at the South American Football Confederation (CSF) headquarters.
The events took place in a huge tent on the lawn in front of the building, watched by an audience including sponsors and club directors and broadcast live around the continent by a cable television channel.
All that was missing were the names of the teams who will take part.
Ecuadorean Alberto Spencer, who scored a record 54 goals in the tournament for Penarol and Barcelona, Brazil's 1970 World Cup-winning coach Mario Zagallo, former River Plate striker Daniel Onega, another Libertadores record holder, and Fernando Morena, top scorer in 1974, 1975 and 1982, were invited to do the honours.
Their efforts, however, proved largely inconclusive.
Most domestic leagues are still in progress around South America and only 14 of the 38 participants in next year's Libertadores, the continent's equivalent of the European Champions League, have so far qualified.
Instead, the other balls in the draw contained names such as Colombia 4, referring to the fourth-ranked team in the 2004 Colombian season, Peru 3 and Brazil 1, referring to the eventual Brazilian champions.
In the second round, Boca were drawn in Group Eight against Ecuador 1, Peru 2 and Mexico 1.
Fellow Argentines River Plate were also drawn with unknown opposition in Group Five, against Ecuador 2, Uruguay 2 and the winners of the tie between Colombia 3 and Bolivia 3.
The competition will feature a record 38 teams and has been given a new format, with a first round of six two-legged knockout ties.
Twenty-six teams go straight into the second round, where they join the six first-round winners and are divided into eight groups of four.
Defending champions Once Caldas of Colombia were drawn in Group Seven against Argentina's San Lorenzo plus Chile's second representative and the winners of the first-round tie between the third representatives of Mexico and Peru.
The eventual Brazilian champions face a tough draw in Group Four against Cerro Porteno, who won the two championships played in Paraguay this year, and Venezuela's Deportivo Tachira, who reached the Libertadores quarter-finals this year.
The winners of the tie between Paraguay 3 and Brazil 5 complete the group.