Chapecoense survivors lift trophy 2 months after tragedy

Chapecoense players Neto, left, goalkeeper Follmann, on the wheelchair, and Alan Ruschel, right, the three players that survived the air crash, arrive for an Sudamericana trophy award ceremony prior to a friendly match against Palmeiras, in Chapeco, Brazil, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. Almost two months after the air tragedy that killed 71 people, including 19 team players, Chapecoense plays at its Arena Conda stadium against the 2016 Brazilian champion Palmeiras. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Chapecoense soccer team player Alan Ruschel gestures to supporters after a training session at the Arena Conda stadium in Chapeco, Brazil, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. Ruschel is one of the six passengers that survived in the Chapecoense air crash, which killed 71 people, including 19 team players almost two months ago in Colombia. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
New players of the Chapecoense soccer team cheer supporters after a training session at the Arena Conda stadium in Chapeco, Brazil, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. Three Chapecoense players survived and 19 players perished in an air crash that killed 71 people almost two months ago in Colombia. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
New Chapecoense players applaud prior to a friendly match against Palmeiras, in Chapeco, Brazil, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. Almost two months after the air tragedy that killed 71 people, including 19 team players, Chapecoense plays at its Arena Conda stadium against the 2016 Brazilian champion Palmeiras. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Chapecoense soccer team fans cheer during a team's training session at the Arena Conda stadium in Chapeco, Brazil, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. Three Chapecoense players survived and 19 players perished in an air crash that killed 71 people almost two months ago in Colombia. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Chapecoense soccer team fans take pictures at the Arena Conda stadium in Chapeco, Brazil, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017. As the Chapecoense club rebuilds after the air crash that killed 19 players and nearly all members of the staff and board of directors, so is the town of 200,000. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Chapecoense goalkeeper Follmann, one of the three players that survived the air crash almost two months ago, is wheeled on the pitch as he carries the Sudamericana trophy, during the Sudamericana trophy award ceremony prior to a match against Palmeiras, in Chapeco, Brazil, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. Almost two months after the air tragedy that killed 71 people, including 19 team players, Chapecoense plays at its Arena Conda stadium against the 2016 Brazilian champion Palmeiras. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Chapecoense soccer team fans cheer during a team's training session at the Arena Conda stadium in Chapeco, Brazil, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. Three Chapecoense players survived and 19 players perished in an air crash that killed 71 people almost two months ago in Colombia. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
A boy dressed as the Chapecoense mascot cheers during a Sudamericana trophy award ceremony prior to a friendly match against Palmeiras, in Chapeco, Brazil, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. Almost two months after the air tragedy that killed 71 people, including 19 team players, Chapecoense plays at its Arena Conda stadium against the 2016 Brazilian champion Palmeiras. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

CHAPECO, Brazil — 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 Saturday'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.

The steady performance against the Brazilian champions in the first half, and managing a draw, gave fans hope they will be competitive this season.

The team's schedule will be demanding.

It must defend the Santa Catarina state championship, stay up in Brazil's top-flight division, and compete in the Copa Libertadores, South America's most prestigious tournament. The Brazilian team is also expected to play in several fundraisers for families of the victims, including one against Barcelona.

The stadium broke out in chants of "Vamos, Vamos Chape" (Let's go Chape) in Portuguese on 71 minutes, as a tribute to the 71 people killed in the crash in Colombia en route to the match. Only six survived.

Colombian flags and Atletico Nacional shirts were visible throughout the stadium.

"We deserve to do well this season," 17-year-old fan Diego Sandro said. "We have been through a lot and still we managed to get back on track."

People also read these

Japan's World Cup preparations take a hit in loss...

Mar 27, 2018

Japan's preparations for the World Cup took another hit after a 2-1 loss to Ukraine in a friendly

Belgium goes to World Cup without Nainggolan

May 21, 2018

Belgium left midfielder Radja Nainggolan out of its World Cup squad despite a standout season with...

WORLD CUP: Belgium has exceptional talent but so...

Jun 12, 2018

Belgium has the ingredients for success at the World Cup, but injury cloud over Kompany

Formiga, 'the ant,' just keeps on going in...

Aug 14, 2016

Formiga just keeps on going. Tireless Brazilian midfielder still influential

Joao Havelange, former president of FIFA, dies at...

Aug 16, 2016

Joao Havelange, who as president of FIFA for two decades transformed soccer's governing body into a...

About Us

The Score Daily brings to you the up-to-date record of your favorite sports team. Whether it is soccer, football, basketball, tennis, or rugby - you can get all the latest news update right here as we’ve got you covered.

Contact us: sales[at]thescoredaily.com

Subscribe Now!