By Juan Arango
David vs. Goliath
Whatever you want to call it, Itagüí FC has become the big story of Colombian football as they are just one step away from getting to the final of the second edition of the Copa Postobón- the distant equivalent to the FA Cup or the Copa del Rey.
With the threat of another team going on the Clinton List as well as all the financial troubles going on it is a bit of a respite for Colombian football. The story of a team from Medellín to be emerging alongside teams that are both historic and recently successful.
It’s an underdog story that has become quite common in Colombia the past few years as teams like Boyacá Chicó, La Equidad have been able to consistently reach first division finals against historic sides such as Independietne Medellín, Atlético Nacional, Atlético Junior, Santa Fe. In the process these teams have also led the charge in the eventual establishment of parity in the South American league.
Itagüí’s story is bigger than Chicó or a Cúcuta Deportivo that won the Finalización back in 2006 only months after being promoted to the top flight earlier that year.
Itagüí is currently atop the standings in the Colombian second division by a scandalous nine points over Pasto. All that advantage means is that they will clinch a spot in the upcoming playoffs. So by the time this story wears out, we could be talking about a team that will be in the first division.
It could be a ginormous story if this was the FA Cup. We could remember that just two years ago when Cardiff City were facing Portsmouth. Ok, maybe it is a bit far fetched, but hopefully I can give you a more proportional comparison.
Itagüí have had a tough road ahead of them, like many of the lower division teams across the world in tournaments such as these. To see any second division team stand toe-to-toe against historically big teams says a great deal about the squad.
From the municipality of Itagüí, this team has come to venture out into the big time and knock off some of the more historic teams in Colombian football to get to the final of the Copa Colombia. The winner of this tournament would earn a spot in next year’s Copa Sudamericana. They beat the Tolima, a team that has consistently been fighting for domestic titles the past five years and just moved to the quarterfinals of the Copa Sudamericana. They then beat the big dog in their porch- Atlético Nacional. Then they advanced to the finals by beating Millonarios in penalty kicks after beating this team on the road 3-2.
It is a story to behold in this world of fixes, Lists, and multimillion dollar signings, Itagüí is a breath of fresh air in a landscape of innocence lost.