Brazil. First Level

Taca de Ouro or the national championship. Although efforts were made to curtail the enormous inflation of the championship, it was still huge and complicated. It started with 40 teams and finished with 41. The traditional final table made every year shows the nightmarish nature of the tournament – first of all, the final table makes no sense and serves no purpose: it has nothing to do with next year participation in the championship: who plays depends on states lots and their fulfillment – on final positions in the states championships. Usually the winner of the Second Level is promoted to the next national championship, yet, it looks like an empty gesture – comes next year and there is no trace of the ‘promoted’ club. Meantime this very winner already played a bit in the national championship, joining the tournament at its 3rd phase. Elimination from the competition was equally tough: only 8 teams were directly out after the initial phase. Big clubs ruled – no matter what, they were always in the game: just in case nobody was out, there were 2 spots reserved for clubs qualified ‘according to CBF’s historical ranking’. So, Vasco da Gama and Gremio played this year thanks to that. One may argue what is fair or unfair to death… not every state of the Brazilian federation had a spot. Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro dominated the picture – Sao Paulo with 6 spots, Rio with 5. There was always a good chance some big clubs to be out, but their clout there was no way to exclude them… and there was an easy argument: what kind of championship really is one with the likes of Operario (Varzea Grande), but without Vasco da Gama? After all, even if Vasco da Gama is really weak, at least its fans pay cash at the gates. Operario? Take it out of home and nobody goes to watch. Anyway, the byzantine championship started, went through the whole stages and finished, and one look at the ‘final table’ only tells that for all its complications and stages not that many games were actually played – in a championship with 41 teams, the finalists, who played the most, played just 24 games. Some ended with 8.

Well, let begin with the early losers, finishing the season after the first phase, which divided the 40 teams into 8 groups.

Brasilia was technically the worst team this year – they lost all 8 games, the only team to finish without even a point.

Catuense (Alagoinhas) was only slightly better than Brasilia – they tied 2 of their 8 games. However, most likely they were not disappointed – playing with the best, even for a little way, was more or less dream fulfilled.

Nacional (Manaus) was may be similar to Catuense, although city like Manaus should have been more ambitious and may be even able to recruit better team. However, Manaus is hardly a cradle of football.

The rest of the early losers are no surprise either: Confianca, Ferroviario, Moto Clube, Anapolina, Rio Branco, Auto Esporte, Tuna Luso. But there were two other names, surprising names:

Bangu was the one – may be not top-tier Brazilian club, but hardly one of the worst. By reputation…

Bangu down – one can allow that, but Cruzeiro? Not able to reach even the second phase… 2 wins, 2 ties, 4 losses, positive goal-difference – 16-13 – and out. Last in Group F, which was hardly the toughest… one clear argument against privileged treatment of big clubs: what is the point to guarantee them participation in the national championship, when they finish last in a group consisting of second-raters at best (America Rio de Janeiro, Atletico Paranaense, Brasil Pelotas, and Rio Branco)? Shame.

After the second stage a mixed bag of clubs was out:

Treze (Campina Grande),

Joinville (Joinville). Standing from left: Léo, Jecenir, Claudemir, Ricardo, Valter, Adilson.

Crouching: João Carlos, Nardela, Paulinho, João Renato, Silvinho.

ABC (Natal),

CRB (Maceio),

Santa Cruz (Recife) – this club deserves a note: it is among the top 15 most popular clubs in Brazil and highly successful in the state of Pernambuco, yet, never impressive on the national stage and hardly one of the famous Brazilian clubs abroad. Curiously or not, early exit of Santa Cruz is rather expected.

Brasil (Pelotas) – a club, which needs a bit of attention, because of the confusing name – they represent the city of Pelotas and there is also a sport with that name. Thus, Brasil Pelotas could be easily confused with the Brazilian national team of that similar to football sport. The full name of the club is Gremio Esportivo Brasil, normally insignificant club from Rio Grande do Sul, but particularly irritating this year, for they took one of the 2 spots for the state, normally ‘reserved’ for Gremio (Porto Alegre). Not only that, but they also performed equally to Inter (Porto Alegre), another irritating point for all advocates of big and famous clubs.

The last of the clubs expected to reach this phase and no further – at best – was Operario (Varzea Grande, Mato Grosso). The rest, however, were big names down on their luck for whatever reasons – starting with Atletico Mineiro. And going…

Bahia (Salvador) was the worst among them.

Internacional (Porto Alegre), barely better than their pariah-neighbours Brasil (Pelotas),

Botafogo, never mind Alemao,

Palmeiras, with quaite impressive squad,

Sao Paulo.

In the 3rd phase the fresh winners of Taca CBF joined the top championship.

Uberlandia, in fact, played well – won 2 games, tied 2, lost 2, 4-3 goal-difference. Unfortunately, 6 points were not enough – Coritiba earned 7 and Uberlandia finished 3rd. Five points ahead of Fortaleza, but out.

The rest of the eliminated at this phase teams: Operario (Campo Grande, Mato Grosso do Sul), Goias, America (Rio de Janeiro), Santo Andre (Santo Andre, Sao Paulo), Atletico Paranaense,

Fortaleza, and

Santos. Standing from left: Rodolfo Rodrigues, Gilberto Sorriso, Márcio, Toninho Carlos, Chiquinho, Toninho Oliveira, Dema.

First row: Gersinho, Lino, Paulo Isidoro, Serginho Chulapa, Humberto, Zé Sérgio. Perhaps Santos was unlucky, for the team was quit good and they were second scorers in this championship with 39 goals – Gremio also scored 39, but they played more games.

After the 3rd phase it was simple – quarterfinals, cup format. The last of the ‘rabble’ was eliminated here:

Nautico (Recife) lost both legs to Gremio – 2-3 and 1-3. It was good campaign, though. Standing from left: Lourival,Solito, Douglas, Luciano, Isidoro, Carlinhos.

Front row: Dario, Paulinho, Brás, Evaristo, Jair.

Portuguesa was practically destroyed by Vasco da Gama – 2-5 and 3-4.

That was nothing compared to the fate of Coritiba, which lost to Fluminense 2-2 and 0-5.

And here was the end of Flamengo too – not long ago at the top of the world and having the Argentine star keeper Ubaldo Fillol between the posts, but facing Corinthians was no joke. It started well, Elder and Bebeto scoring to make 2-0 victory in Rio, but the next leg was in ultra-hostile Sao Paulo and the result was 1-4. Out.

The semi-finals opposed only big clubs – Gremio vs Vasco da Gama, the 2 teams allowed to play in the championship on ‘historical record’, and Corinthians vs Fluminense. Gremio was the current world champion, Corinthians were arguably the most exciting Brazilian team at the time…

Gremio won 1-0 at home, but lost the second leg 0-3.

Corinthians somehow was unable to fulfill its potential – a disastrous home opening canceled their ambitions – they lost 0-2 and the second leg was more or less a formality, ending 0-0.

A Rio de Janeiro final for the first time – and it was only the second occasion with finalists from the same city – opposing mighty old enemies: Vasco da Gama vs Fluminense. A lot as stake: Vasco da Gama won the Brazilian championship only once, 10 years ago, and a second title was much desired. Fluminense did not won at all so far. High ambitions, but reality on the pitch was another matter – for all the hype, Brazilian football was of poor quality for a long time – defensive, without flair, few goals were scored. This may have been disappointing, but victory obliterated all negative aspects, at least for the winners. Vasco hosted the opening leg on May 24, but eventually Romerito scored the only goal of the game and Fluminense had precarious 1-0 lead before the second leg. On May 28 the rivals met again, scored no goals, and Fluminense won the title.

It all depends on the standpoint – for somebody neutral, reaching the final was a great achievement for a team permitted to participate in the championship only on historical grounds; for the fans – it was great misery: no title. Second-best just does not do it. Vasco da Gama somehow did not have great team, Roberto Dinamite was the only big star and although he scored constantly, when it mattered most he did not.

Looking at the new champions, they did not have starry squad either, so it was perhaps a case of motivation and determination, spurred by the great chance and the fact of playing against old local rival than actual skill, but Fluminense had strong campaign, no doubt about it. At the end, this squad put the name of the great club on the list of Brazilian champions at last. Given the fantastic history of Brazilian football, this squad was not becoming a legend, but first national title was well appreciated, espacially when combined with 3rd consecutive Rio de Janeiro title. Strong year by any measure.

And just because it was a first title, one more look at the new champions – this time dressed in their reserve kit.

Brazil II Division

Brazil. There was a change in the formula of the championship this year – it affected the second level mostly, the championship was greatly simplified. 32 teams participated, but there was no longer complicated group phases and inclusion of eliminated top level teams. Instead, it was classic cup format – starting with 1/16 finals, direct elimination, leading to the final and the winner was the champion. Both the winner and losing finalist were promoted to first level for the next year. But the championship was scheduled in such way, so to finish before the 3rd stage of the higher level championship started – and the winner of second level, Copa CBF, was included in this phase of Copa Brasil, or Taca de Ouro, or the national championship, call it as you like. As for the participants – it was thorough second level championship, for, Guarani (Campinas) and Sport (Recife) excepted, there were no big names in it. Whatever the names, current form and luck ruled the competition:

Sergipe (Aracaju) was eliminated immediately by Sport – 0-0 and 1-2.

Avai (Florianopolis) ended its campaign right away too – losing to Guarani 2-3 and 2-5.

Nacional (Itumbiara) lost to Uberlandia 0-3 and 2-1.

ASA (Arapiraca) lost to Itabuna – after penalty shoot-out,which ended either 2-4 or 1-3. The record is unclear, but no matter.

In the 1/8 finals Sport (Recife) was eliminated by Botafogo (Joao Pessoa) – 2-2 and 0-2. More out of luck:

Pinheirtos (Curitiba) lost penalty shoot-out against Itabuna.

Guarani (Campinas) was eliminated by Uberlandia – 0-0 and 0-1.

Ceara (Fortaleza) also lost a shoot-out to Central.

At the ¼ finals Central reached the end of the road.

Central (Caruaru) lost to Internacional 0-2 and 1-1.

Itumbiara was eliminated by Uberlandia – 1-2 and 1-1.

And at the semifinals:

Internacional (Santa Maria) lost to Remo 0-0 and 0-3, and

Botafogo (Joao Pessoa) was no match for Uberlandia – 0-4 and 0-2.

So, the final – Remo vs Uberlandia. Uberlandia won the opening leg at home 1-0. Then, visiting , managed 0-0 at Belem and became the new winner of Taca CBF.

Remo (Belem) was unlucky, losing by a single goal, but, according to the rules, they were promoted to play higher level football next year. Was it followed is another matter, but that was next season concern.

So, Uberlandia, named after the city from Minas Gerais won the second level championship of Brazil.

The winners should be unknown names, but in South America one never knows for sure. Mocair and Batata are quite familiar names – if there is no duplication of names, which happens often.

Another version of the starting eleven features Biro-Biro. Ney and Cleyton also sound familiar… just as duplication of names is possible, another thing is possible: notoriously lax transfer rules may have brought some big names to Uberlandia at least for a part of the campaign. No matter what, the club enjoyed excellent season. In fact, the best ever for the club founded in 1922 – of course, it is largely unknown club to foreigners, but how small this club is? It has a stadium for over 50 000 spectators. Well, that is Brazil. Uberlandia normally plays small role in the championship of Minas Gerais, more often in the second division than in the first. So far, their best season was 1962, when they won the Minas Gerais Second Division. The second victory was much bigger – it was on national scale. And actually remains the highest achievement of Uberlandia to this day. As champions, they benefited immediately – promoted to Taca de Ouro for 1985, but they did not have to wait until next year: the winners of Taca CBF also joined the current Brazilian championship at the 3rd phase. The season was not over and, at least theoretically, Uberlandia had a chance to win the national title too.


Uruguay. The only South American country running standard league championship, however, with some peculiarities. The small Second Division played only 18 rounds, for there were just 10 team. The new thing was the penetration of provincial club among the highest levels of Uruguayan football – Huracan (Paso/Arena) finished 2nd, 2 points behind the winners, but losing only 1 match during the season. Worth noting, for all other clubs in First and Second Divisions were from Montevideo, as always it had been.

River Plate (Montevideo) won the championship with 28 points from 12 wins, 4 ties, and 2 losses, goal-difference 38-13. Nothing new, nothing extraordinary – River Plate played top league football many times, it was just a return. But clubs from Montevideo were no strangers to First Division and the lower league was practically full of former top division members. River Plate was promoted to play first league football next year.

First Division had 13 members this year, but apart from the odd number, nothing unusual as far as the championship was structured. All teams were from Montevideo, as ever.

Miramar was last with 11 points. Cerro – 12th with 15 points. Sud America – 11th with 17 points. Progreso – 10th with 18 points. Huracan Buceo – 9th with 18 points.

Defensor Sporting – 8th with 24 points.

Rampla Juniors – 7th with 24 points.

Wanderers – 6th with 26 points.

Bella Vista – 5th with 27 points.

Danubio – 4th with 31 points. Standing from left: Nelson Alaguich , Javier Zeoli , José Rosauro Cabrera, Miguel Beltrán ,Daniel Martínez, CésarVega.

First row: Dardo Pérez , Néstor Silva , Rúben Sosa , Eliseo Rivero, Carlos Omar Franco.

Nacional – 3rd with 32 points. Standing from left: Velichco, Graniolati, Perdomo, W. Gonzalez, “chico” Moreira, Aguirregaray.

First row:Aguilera, Berrueta, JR Carrasco, Luzardo, Villazan.

Penarol – 2nd with 34 points.

And the new champions were Central Espanol. Third row from left: J.Ariel Presa (Utilero), Alfredo Ferreira (Kinesiologo), OvdulioTrasante, Miguel Del Rio, Hector Tuja, Daniel Andrada, Miguel Berriel, Carlos Barcos, Julio Garrido, German Adinolfi (Preparador Fisico), Antonio

Godsian (Ayudante Tecnico).

Middle row: Ruben Borda, Paulo Silva, Fernando Operti, Fernando Vilar, Cesar Pereira, Tomas Lima, Liber Arispe (Director Tecnico).

Front row: Javier Baldriz, Oscar Falero, Abel Tolosa, Jose Villareal, Uruguay Gussoni, Daniel Viera, Wilfredo Antunez.

Hardly any familiar names, but that was the situation in Uruguay at the time – almost everybody with half-decent skills was playing abroad. Anywhere, but home and that was for years. The victory of Central Espanol was significant anyway: first of all, it was awarded not on merit, but on rules – the title was won as newly promoted club. That sounds like two teams were tied and rule was applied to break the tie – and since Penarol was never relegated, Central Espanol was automatically ‘newly promoted club’, for they played second division. No matter when… compared to Penarol, only Nacional was not ‘newly promoted’. But there was no tie… Central Espanol finished with 35 points, one more than Penarol and they won the championship without any complications. Why the rule was applied is a mystery. 13 wins, 9 ties, 2 losses, 39-17 goal-difference – simply, the best league record this year.

One more look at the new champions – their regular starters. Historic achievement – first ever title! Instant legends, at least for their supporters. The second club since 1931 to snatch the title from the hands of either Nacional or Penarol – the first was Defensor in 1976. This victory also increased the all-time number of winning teams to 8. Say what you like, for club and fans it was fantastic season.

So far, so good… but this was not all. A small tournament was played – the Colombes Cup – with 6 teams. Perhaps the big purpose was just to make the short season a bit longer, to add more games and somewhat bigger income from the gates. Central Espanol finished last in it, but it was unimportant. Penarol won this cup – one more trophy, otherwise, unimportant victory.

The important one was the Libertadores Cup-Qualifying Liguilla. Get it, if you can… 6 teams played and perhaps this would have been a tournament for the 2nd Uruguayan spot. Reason suggests the teams finishing from 2nd to 7th place in the national championship. To hell with reason! More likely the title meant nothing, for Central Espanol was part of this qualifying tournament. That means the top 6 teams in the final standing? Wrong! The top 5 were there, but the 6th team was Defensor Sporting, which was 9th in the final table. They finished last here, but why they had a place at all? Anyway, there was no winner after all games were played. Central Espanol was not even in the running, finishing 4th. Penarol and Bella Vista were on top with 8 points each and equal goal-difference. For the sake of final table, Penarol was 1st for scoring more goals – that is, one goal more than Bella Vista. But the ‘champion’ was to be decided by play-off between these two – it decided nothing, ending 2-2, and only penalty-shoot gave the victory to Penarol: 5-3. Bad luck for Bella Vista so far… but they had one more chance: there was another play-off for the 2nd Uruguayan spot in Copa Libertadores – in it Bella Vista was opposed to Central Espanol, as ‘champion of Uruguay’. Now luck was on Bella Vista’s side – they prevailed 1-0. Wonderful for them, but what was the championship title worth then? Next to nothing, as far as international football was concerned.

For international purposes, the champion of Uruguay was still ever-present Penarol. Well, at least it was a club able to win Copa Libertadores…


Chile. The top division ballooned to 26 teams, but it was going to be reduced to 20 in the next year, so 8 teams were facing relegation and only 2 were promoted from the second level.

Union La Calera was the champion of second level. Standing from left: Alarcón, Vásquez, Gutiérrez, Rojas, Jélvez, Giadallach. Front row: Chahuán, Santibañez, Zurita, Vera, Valenzuela.

Deportes Concepsion was the second promoted team.

The huge First Division was divided into 2 zones, but the championship formula was very simple by South American standards: after playing 26 games (Why that number unless each team played twice against the teams of the other zone? Well, every South American championship had its own mysterious ways.) the top 2 teams of each zone proceeded to the Final Playoff and last 4 teams in each zone were relegated. Kind of… So, here it is:

Northern Zone.

Regional Atacama – 13th with 13 points and relegated.

Deportes La Serena – 12th with 13 points and relegated.

Antofagasta – 11th with 17 points and relegated.

Santiago Wanderers – 10th with 22 points and relegated.

San Luis – 9th with 24 points.

Union San Felipe – 8th with 24 points.

Palestino – 7th with 25 points.

Deportes Iquique – 6th with 26 points.

Magallanes – 5th with 29 points. Standing from left: Carlos Villazón, Julio Suazo, Emiliano Astorga, Benedito Pereira, Eduardo Vilches, Adolfo Nef.

First row: Fernando Medina, Eduardo Calquín, Luis Pérez, Arturo Jáuregui, Claudio Fino Toro.

Deportes Arica – 4th with 30 points.

Colo Colo – 3rd with 36 points. Weak season, clearly – not a title contender, how unusual.

Cobresal – 2nd with 38 points and going to the final palyoff.

Cobreloa – 1st with 41 points and going to the final playoff.


Southern Zone.

Coquimbo Unido – 13th with 14 points and relegated.

Green Cross – 12th with 19 points and relegated.

Fernandez Vial – 11th with 22 points and relegated.

Audax Italiano – 10th with 24 points and… not relegated! Unless a relegation play-off was played, there was no reason for them to stay in the league.

Trasandino – 9th with 24 points and relegated. They had better record than Audax Italiano, winning more games and even finishing with positive goal-difference, but went down. Too bad.

Everton – 8th with 25 points.

Huachipato – 7th with 25 points.

Rangers – 6th with 25 points.

Universidad de Chile – 5th with 28 points. Not their year.

O’Higgins – 4th with 29 points.

Naval – 3rd with 31 points.

Union Espanola – 2nd with 35 points and going to the final play-off.

Universidad Catolica – 1st with 37 points and going to the final play-off.


The Final Play-off – round-robin tournament between the 4 qualified teams. Looked like Cobreloa was the favourite, for they were the best team in the first phase and that by far. But the last games proved different.

Cobreloa lost 2 games and tied 1, which placed them last.

Union Espanola was 3rd with a win, a tie, and a loss – 3 points, but negative goal-difference.

Cobresal was clearly following in the steps of Cobreloa – a newcomers from a mining town, quickly challenging the establishment. They finished 2nd with 3 ties – did not lose a game, but were unable to win any either. Still, it was fantastic season.

Universidad Catolica was in supreme form – won 2 games and tied the third. The title was theirs and rightly so, for the team was strong from start to finish, the whole season. The title stayed in Santiago after all, but how sweet it was for the fans of the club – this was their 5th title, but they had to wait 18 years for it. With this victory Universidad Catolica was already better than Magallanes (4 titles) and equaled the record of Union Espanola. Far behind Colo Colo and Universidad de Chile, of course, but no matter – they were champions in 1984, not the rivals.C


Peru. Looked like Peru took Brazilian championship as a model, a grand, but not exactly great affair. 25 teams played in the strange championship, going to 30 the next year. Needs explaining: first, the ‘Regional Tournament’ took place, followed by the ‘Descentralised Tournament’, when the title was decided, and finally ‘The Liquilla’, deciding the 2nd Peruvian Copa Libertadores team. That was not all, of course: after the ‘Regional Tournament’, those failing to qualify to the second stage played on the ‘Intermediary Division’ against second division teams to gain promotion for next year championship. And if any of the Regional Groups winners finished on the top 6 of Descentralised Tournament, that team earned the righ to playoff in the Liguilla against Descentralised runner-up for a Copa Libertadores place. Meantime, every level ended the season with champion of its own. Thus, San Agustin won the Second Division championship.

The Regional Tournament had the participants divided into 4 unequal groups – the Metropolitan Goup had 10 teams. 6 qualified directly to the next stage, 2 teams went to play-offs, and the last 2 teams finished their top league season right here. The Northern Group had 5 teams, 2 qualified to the next stage, the 3rd placed proceeded to play-offs, and the last two were done for the season. The Central Group – 5 teams – had the top 2 qualified to the next stage and nothing else. The Southern Group was exactly like the Northern Group: 2 teams qualified, 1 went to play-offs, and 2 joined the rest of lowly unfortunates in the Intermediary Division. Those out of the championship race after the Regional Tournament were: Juventud La Palma (Huacho) and Octavio Espinoza (Ica) from Metropolitan Group; Carlos Mannucci (Trujillo) and Jose Galvez (Chimbote) from Northern Group;

Defensor ANDA (Aucayacu), Hospital Pucallpa (Pucallpa), and Hostal Rey (La Merced) from Central Group; Alfonso Ugarte (Puno) and Cienciano (Cusco) from Southern Group.

In the play-offs

Deportivo Municipal (Lima) lost to Universidad Tecnica and Atletico Chalaco (Callao) to Coronel Bolognesi.

14 teams played the Descentralised Tournament, but only 2 of them competed for the first place. One match – Diablos Rojos-Univeridad Tecnica – was not played for some reason and in the final table those teams finished with 25 games to 26 played by the other teams. Diablos Rojos (Juliaca) was last with 17 points. Sport Pilsen (Guadalupe) – 13th with 19 points. Universidad Tecnica (Cajamarca) – 12th with 21 points. Union Huaral (Huaral) – 11th with 22 points.

ADT – Asociacion Deportiva (Tarma) – 10th with 23 points. Standing form left: Vicente Castillo, Armando Carrizales, Rowland Chumpitaz, Ernesto Herrera, Alejandro Mujica, Reynaldo Bernaola.

First row: Israel Conde, Rinaldo Quesada, Enrique Peña, Kiko Bendezú, Raúl Valdez.

Huancayo FC (Huancayo) – 9th with 26 points. Standing form left: Vega, Portanova, Enrique Mendoza, Cisterna, Jaime Elias, Eusebio Acazuso.

First row: Andrés Zegarra, Pajuelo, Sevat, Gustavo Sotomayor, Eduardo Rivera.

Coronel Bolognesi (Tacna) – 8th with 26 points.

Atletico Torino (Talara) – 7th with 27 points.

Universitario de Deportes (Lima) – 6th with 27 points. Standing from left: Leonardo Rojas, Juan Carlos Jaime, Freddy Ternero, Martín Duffó, Samuel Eugenio, Hugo Gastulo.

Crouching: Hincados: Javier Torres, Fidel Castro, José Ziani, Percy Rojas, Miguel Seminario.

Melgar FBC (Arequipa) – 5th with 28 points.

Sporting Cristal (Lima) – 4th with 28 points. Standing from left: Pedro Ruiz, Roberto Arrelucea, Alfredo Quesada, NN, Héctor Chumpitaz, Rubén Díaz, Humberto Valdetaro.


First row: Luis Reyna, César Loyola, Juan Caballero, Alberto Mora.

Alianza (Lima) – 3rd with 29 points.

CNI – Colegio Nacional (Iquitos) – 2nd with 34 points. Standing from left: José Gonzáles, Florentino Bernaola, Victor Vargas, Rodman Barbagelata, César Adriazola.

First row: José Salazar, Martín Gago, Ernesto Guillén, Yañez, Nehemías Mera, Mario Gutiérez.

Sport Boys (Callao) – 1st with 35 points. Running head to head with CNI, but prevailing by a point and clinching the title.

The second Copa Libertadores spot was decided in the following Liquilla. CNI, Melgar FBC, and Universitario played the final tournament in Lima. The tournament was not enough – all games were tied and according to better scoring records, Melgar FBC and Univeristario went to decisive play-off – Univeristario clinched 2-1 victory.

Not a great season for Universitario de Deportes (Lima), but at least they earned a Copa Libertadores spot – unlike their rivals Alianza and Sporting Cristal. Standing from left: Leo Rojas, Juan Carlos Jaime, Martín Duffó, Luis Gardella, Samuel Eugenio, Raúl García.

Crouching: Fredy Ternero, Luis Mansilla, Jaime Drago, Percy Rojas, Eduardo Rey Muñoz.

But Sport Boys (Callao) were the heroes of the year. Standing from left: César Peralta, Félix Puntriano, Darío Herrera, César Espino, Pedro Requena, Miguel Mendoza.

First row: Juan Carlos Cabanillas, David Zuluaga, Augusto Palacios, Johnny Watson, Víctor Hurtado.

This was the 6th title for the club, but the 5th was won in 1958, so it was the end of long period of waiting and suffering. And since Callao was already reduced to mere satellite of Lima, it was always sweet to beat the big neighbours. The victory did not come easy, thus, it was double sweet. Champions again.



Paraguay. The winner of the second level – the only promoted team was little known:

San Lorenzo. Good for them, going up.

The top level was the usual South American affair: 4 stages! Every stage brought bonus points to top teams, carried to the final tournament, in which 6 teams out of the 10 league members played for the title.

One team was relegated, although it is unclear on what exactly rule – Tembetary Atletico was the unfortunate club and quite rightly so: they were last in the 1st phase, 9th in the 2nd phase, and 4th in its group (the league was divided into 2 groups at this one) in the 3rd phase. That is, Tembetary was either last and next to last all the way.

It doesn’t matter much, but here are the winners of the stages – Olimpia won the 1st after final play-off against Guarani, won 6-3. Guarani won the 2nd stage without losing a match. Olimpia won the 3rd stage, which was seemingly the team with most points – otherwise a play-off should have been played. But if so, it is strange, because was 2nd in its group – after Libertad. All that brought bonus points and teams entered the final stage as follows: Olimpia – 4 points, Guarani – 3 points, Cerro Porteno and Libertad – 1 point, and Sol de America and Atletico Colegiales – 0 points. As it was, Asuncion affair.

Well, it was only Sportivo Luqueno representing the rest of Paraguay in the league, but it was not their year. Standing from left: Juan Ortiz, Pedro Sandoval Cabriza, Felipe Nery Peralta, Hugo Benitez Isasi, Cesar Zavala, Ubaldo Gonzalez

Crouching: Nicolas Azuaga, Adolfo Javier Vera Espinola, Milciades Morel, Aristides Saldivar, Roberto Gamarra.

The 6 finalists played once against each other – that was the formula in every stage – and the final table emerged.

Atletico Colegiales ended last with 2 points. Sol de America was 5th with 5 points.

Libertad ended 4th with 4th with 6 points (1 bonus),

Quite surprisingly, Olimpia was good only for 3rd place this year – 7 points, 4 of which were bonus. They played miserably at the most important stage.

Cerro Porteno was 2nd with 9 points. They were the best at the final stage, obviously finely tuned for the decisive tournament, but bonus points worked against them – they had only 1 and that was their undoing.

Guarani triumphed – they were stable the whole year, close to Olimpia, which gave them 3 extra points. If bonus points did not exist, Guarani would have been 2nd – but only a point behind Cerro Porteno. That is, they in the same fine form from start to end – not exactly best at every stage, but at least second, and the accumulation of points was well rewarded – 7 plus 3 made 10: Cerro Porteno had 9. To the foreign mind, Paraguayan football is pretty much Olmpia and Cerro Porteno, but it was never so – Guarani cannot be excluded. They were the first champions of Paraguay in 1906 and this was there 7th title. And more importantly, they ended the long dominance of Olimpia – after 6 years of white heat, Paraguay had different champion.


Colombia. Octogonal Final

Octagonal Final. The real thing, for all purposes: the winner of this tournament was the champion of the year, the 2nd placed got the other Colombian lot in Copa Libertadores. Desire is one thing, ability and form – another. Effectively, two teams competed for the title, going head-to-head from start to finish. When all 14 rounds were played, the picture was quite close to what happened earlier in the year:

Union Magdalena was 8th with 11 points.

Atletico Nacional finished 7th, but was above Union only thanks on its bonus: 11.25 points. Withoput 1.25 bonus points, they would have been last. Practically, the only team really losing steam late in the year, when it was most important.

Atletico Bucaramanga – 6th with 13 points.

Atletico Junior – 5th with 14.25 points. Nothing to brag about – the final performance was quite weak.

Deportes Tolima – 4th with 14.25 points. It may appear that Tolima took it easy at Torneo Nacional, having already qualified to the final leg, but if so, the idea misfired and the team was no good for more than 4th place.

DIM – Deportivo Indpendiente Medellin – 3rd with 15 points. The highest placed team without bonus points, but not good enough for more than bronze this season – even if the others did not carry bonus points, DIM would have been 3rd.

Millonarios – 2nd with 18.25 points. Looking at their performance, they apparently aimed carefully to be at their best at the end of the season – nothing spectacular, yet strong, during Copa de la Paz, strong, but a bit less so than America, during Torneo Nacional, and perfect at Octagonal Final. In fact, they were best at this stage – 6 wins, 6 ties, 2 games lost, 16-8 goal-difference. America finished with the same record, but worse goal-difference. So, bonus points decided the championship. Millonarios, however, had the biggest star in its squad – the former Argentine national team player Jose Daniel Van Tuyne.

America (Cali) won, thanks to their bonus points – they had 6-6-2 record in the Final, of course, and slightly worse goal-difference than Millonarios: 15-9. But they employed different tactic and it worked better than the Millionarios’ – America was consistently strong during the whole year, winning every tournament so far. This gave them 2 bonus points and with them they finished with 20 final points, a good 1.75 more than their rivals. Standing from left: Luis Eduardo Reyes, Hugo “Pitillo” Valencia, Julio César Falcioni, Juan Penagos, Jorge Porras. Crouching: Juan Manuel Bataglia, Víctor Espinoza, Guillermo La Rosa, Willington Ortiz, César Cueto, Víctor Lugo.

Looking back, everything was simple – America was going through one of their strongest ever periods – this was their 3rd consecutive title. Well balanced and well oiled squad, with lost of experience playing together. Two Peruvian stars should be mentioned – Guillermo La Rossa and Cesar Cueto. By now, both slipped out of foreign, particularly European mind, but one only has to go back to the 1978 World Cup to recall them. Particularly the excellent midfielder Cueto. Unfortunately, such were the times – South America did not get much coverage and Colombian championship virtually none. So whoever played there was practically lost, but it was not fair – Colombia was perhaps the biggest importer outside Europe and not counting the Mickey Mouse NASL for years, going back to the 1950s, when professional football was established in the country. Big names were still going to play in Colombia, sometimes even preferring it to Europe and it was the only South American country regularly importing players from Europe. But nobody paid attention and and, ironically, Colombia became also a swamp for players like La Rosa and Cueto: once there, they were forgotten and had almost no chance for moving to Europe and back to fame. Well, it worked well for America – they had strong stars and winning titles. One after another.

Colombia. Early Stages

Colombia. Nothing new in terms of formula, but South American complicated championships almost make repetition a must. So, closed league, no relegation and promotion, 14 teams. Two championships – Copa de la Paz and the National. For Copa de la Raz the league was divided into 2 groups and the top two teams of each proceeded to the final group, but teams of the same original group played only against each other, twice. Was there a winner is unclear, for this was not proper final but all finalists got bonus points – from 1 to 0.25, according to final position according to results. Just to make things more confusing, this year America won its both final games, but Atletico Nacional ended with a win and a tie. Yet, both teams appear with 4 points in the ‘final’ table. Bonus table followed actual results and America got 1 point, Atletico Nacional – 0.75. Torneo Nacional was played as a regular league championship. The top 4 teams in the final table got bonus points, just like from Copa de la Paz – from 1 to 0.25, according to position. After that the Octagonal Final was played – the 4 teams at the final of Copa de la Paz, completed to 8 by teams from Torneo Nacional, depending on final standings. Since some teams were on top in both separate championships played so far, the final group included some lower placed teams, this season going down to the 7th placed. The winner of the Octagonal Final was the champion of Colombia. Bonus points eventually played a role here, sometimes decisive role.

Because of the confusing records, the end of Copa de la Paz is partly narrated above. Since it is unclear was there a winner, only the bonus-point table will be given now: 1. America – 1 point, 2. Atletico Junior – 0.75, 3. Atletico Nacional – 0.50, 4. Deportes Tolima – 0.25. Weird… Atletico Junior lost both final games and Atletico Nacional had a win and a tie, yet, Atletico Junior got more bonus points, as if placed 2nd in the final table.

No confusion about Torneo Nacional – America won it and got bonus point. Atletico Nacional was 2nd and got 0.75, Atletico Junior – 3rd and 0.50, and Millonarios – 4th and 0.25. To round the group for Octagonal Final the following teams were included: Deportes Tolima as finalist in Copa de la Paz, Deportivo Independiente Medellin – 5th in Torneo Nacional, Atletico Bucaramanga – 6th, and Union Magdalena – 7th.

The unlucky or those just weak this year: Independiente Santa Fe – 8th in Torneo Nacional. They had positive goal-difference , which was better than what Atletico Bucaramanga and Union Magdalena had, but less points.

Deportivo Pereira – 10th with 23 points. Standing from left: Quintabani, Valverde, Toro, Paredes, Chaparo, Pachon

Crouching: Escobar, Jaramillo, Cabrera, Agudelo, Lobaton

Once Caldas – 11th with 22 points,

Deportivo Cali – 12th with 21 points,

Deportes Quindio – 13th with 16 points, and

Cucuta Deportivo – 14th with 12 points. Standing from left: Juan Eugenio Muriel, Rosemberg Bernal, Alexis Mendoza, José Luís Lapuente, José James “ Mina” Camacho, Francisco Mulethaler. Hincados: Rolando Campbell, “ Chicho” Pérez, Sebastián Araujo de Oliveira, “ Dentinho”, Amador, Juanito Moreno.

The losers were ‘fair’ losers – all played pretty much the same in both initial championships, no sudden drop of form.


Ecuador. The top division was going to extended to 16 teams in the next year, so three teams were promoted. In a nutshell – simple: going up were

Deportivo Cuenca,

Petrolero (Esmeraldas), and

Audaz Octubrino (Machala). Of the three, only Petrolero deserves a note: it was an young club, founded in 1977. This was – unlike the other two – their first promotion to the highest level. So, their biggest success so and quite impressive too – reaching top flight after only 7 years of existence.

The First Division had a particularly complicated formula: the 14-team league started in two separate groups. The top two teams of each group qualified directly for the final stage, the winners carrying 1 bonus point to the final stage – those were Barcelona (Guayaquil), Group 1, and El Nacional (Quito), Group 2. Second-placed teams got no bonus points: Tecnico Universitario (Ambato), Group 1, and Filanbanco (Guayaquil), Group 2. The last team in each group proceeded to relegation tournament, penalized by a point – that is, starting with negative record, not clean one. Aucas (Quito) ended last in Group 1 and Deportivo Quevedo (Quevedo) was last in Group 2.

The Second stage used the same formula as the first one, except one thing – if a last-placed in the first stage team won its group, they were saved from relegation. But such heroics were too much to ask for. 9 de Octubre (Milagro) was 1st in Group 1, followed by LDU (Quito). El Nacional was on top of Group 2, followed by Barcelona. As for the lowly teams, Deportivo Quevedo and Aucas were both in Group 1 now and competed for the last spot – Aucas ‘won’, Deportivo Quevedo finishing above them by a point. In Group 2 Filanbanco finished last – only on worse goal-difference, but last. This makes for a bit of confusion: Filanbanco played great in the first stage and earned a spot in the final run for the title; now they were last. The decision was swift – Filanbanco, penalized by a point, went to the relegation tournament. May be because they took 2nd place in the first stage, but one may wonder what would have been, if they were 1st in the opening stage – playing both for the title and for escaping relegation? Anyhow, weird and unhappy story.

Carrying penalty points, three teams moved to play the relegation tournament – Aucas had litle hope, for they started with minus 2 points.

Filanbanco was not in a mood for jokes and beat its opponents in every match – 4 0 0 8-1 7 (-1)

The relegated team was decided between the other two – they exchanged home victories and penatly points decided the matter. Deportivo Quevedo were lucky – 1 0 3 1-4 1 (-1).

Aucas was relegated and quite rightly so, for they were consistently last in the table in every stage. 1 0 3 3-7 0 (-2).

With the thorny question of relegation away, let’s go to the big championship race. One may question the decision to move Filanbanco from the championship final to the relegation tournament, but there was more: The original rule was seemingly simple and clear: the top 2 teams of each group in every stage go to the final, the group winner carrying bonus point. Since Barcelona and El Nacional were on top in both stages, the final group was supposed to be made of 6 teams. Then Filanbanco was excluded, reducing the finalists to 5. But the final tournament involved 8 teams! How and why 3 more clubs reached the final is unclear, but here they were. Most likely the method used was simple adding of the points from the initial stages and those with the least totals were out. Those not reaching the final, but not playing for survival either were:

America (Quito),

LDU (Portoviejo), and

Manta Sport (Manta) – a club usually known as Delfin, but renamed at this period of time.

The final tournament had no major surprises – it was played as every other stage of the championship: as a standard league championship.

Emelec (Guayaquil) had a miserable year and finished last with 8 points. Their best performance was in the first stage, where the finished 3rd – after that, steady downhill.

Deportivo Quito (Quito) was 7th with 11 points. Nothing strange – they were so-so the whole year. However, take a look at the numbers of players – years before it was obligatory rule big numbers were regularly used in South America: the team captain sports number 36.

Tecnico Universitario (Ambato) was 6th with 13 points – like Emelec, their top form came early in the first stage and steadily declined later.

Barcelona (Guayaquil) ended 5th with 14 points and that with the bonus point carried from the first stage. A big disappointment, for Barcelona was very strong until the finals, they lots only 3 matches, scored a lot and traditionally were title contenders. But something happened and they lost steam – if they lost only 3 games in the previous stages, now they lost 7! Half of the final matches.

Universidad Catolica (Quito) finished 4th with 15 points.

LDU (Quito) was 3rd with 17 points – steady performance, but not really a title contender.

9 de Octubre (Milagro) – 2nd with 18 points, one of them a bonus from the second stage. Perhaps the big surprise of the season and surely a delight to its fans. 9 de Octubre usually is not one of the favourites, so its a big step up. Also, they played with perfect timing – gradually improving from stage to stage until reaching top form. Alas, it was not good enough for a title.

No matter how good 9 de Octubre was this year, one of the usual favourites was stronger – El Nacional (Quito) was best from start to finish, winning every stage. At the final tournament they finished with 20 points and even if there were not bonus points they would have been first with their 8 wins, 2 ties, 4 losses, and 20-16 goal-difference. Naturally, the squad is not familiar outside Ecuador, including their Brazilian coach, but this matters not – champions are champions.


Bolivia. Three teams were promoted from second level this year:

Ciclon (Tarija),

Wilstermann Cooperativas (Potosi), also known as Club 10 de Noviembre, and

Destroyers (Santa Cruz).

Looks like the top league was going to be bigger the next year, for only 2 teams were relegated. That was decided, as usual, after the first phase of the championship. Primero de Mayo (Potosi) finished last – 14th – with 12 points and rightfully went down. As for the second relegated, the reasons are unclear today:

Guabira (Santa Cruz) was 11th after the end of the first phase with 20 points. Not only three teams were behind them, but Guabira had more points by far: Municpal (La Paz), 12th, had only 15. Some other factors, not performance, relegated Guabira.

The top 8 teams in the first phase qualified to the second phase:

Oriente Petrolero (Santa Cruz) won the first phase with 40 points, followed closely by Bolivar (La Paz) with 39 points and Blooming (Santa Cruz) with 38 points. The rest were distant: Jorge Wilstermann (Cochabamba) – 4th with 34 points, The Strongest (La Paz) – 5th with 32, Petrolero (Cochabamba) – 6th with 29, Chaco Petrolero (La Paz) – 7th with 24, and San Jose (Oruro) – 8th with 23 points. This was all statistics and pride, for the second phase started with clean sheets. The Strongest and Oriente Petrolero topped group A and qualified to the semi-finals. Bolivar and Blooming did the same in group B.

In the semi-finals The Strongest was eliminated by Blooming – 0-2 and 2-2, and Oriente Petrolero lost to Bolivar – 0-4 and 2-1.

So, the title was to be decided between Blooming and Bolivar, but what a thrill this final was. The first leg was played in Santa Cruz and Blooming won in front of its excited fans 4-3 victory. The second match would made them champions. As for Bolivar, which looked like favourite… they won in La Paz 6-3. Wonderful! But good enough only for for adding one more game, for goal-difference did not count and effectively Bolivar only tied the final. As for what decisive at the end… one can only guess, for the third match finished 1-1 and Blooming was crowned as the new champion of Bolivia. Records say nothing more, just the result of the last match – most likely penalty shoot-out followed and Blooming won, or, less likely, a coin was flipped and Fortuna smiled on them.

Bolivar was unlucky, as the results show, but they were successful club used to titles, so no all that big deal.

As for Blooming – that was the moment they waited for so many years.

One may grumble at the final results, the victory was a bit suspect, but Blooming fans had no questions – only pure joy. Their beloved club won its first title. Champions at last. Historic achievement and even it is surprising today, for Blooming is among the fairly familiar Bolivian clubs – never champions before? Well, yes – reputation was cemented this year. One to stay in memory; results most likely obliterated from mind.