South American Journeyman Recap #7

Hey guys how’s it going? Welcome to a new #SouthAmericanJourneyman monday recap! I hope all of you are taking care of yourself and your loved ones, staying home, washing your hands and taking all the measures necessary.

The moment of truth

What a week has been for A.S. Confiança!

It all started with a close tie with Brasileirao Serie A side Ceará at the Copa do Brasil. It was a close tie, with Ceará having the better chances but us striking at the right time. A 70′ minute equalizer took us to penalties where we simply could’t cut it. Missed the 1st and last shot, letting Ceará escape with a 4-3 win. Would’ve been nice to advance, particularly because of the economics, but it wasn’t to be.

Right after that we entered the defining moments of the Sergipe State Championship. Entering the last two fixtures of the five-matches second stage group, we faced a make or break duel vs derby rivals Sergipe. The fans were ready for it…

A win would give us at least 2nd place regardless of other results, procuring one of the two spots at the PlayOff Final. A defeat would leave us needing a win in the last match and a Itabaiana draw or worst.

It was a hard fought match, but an unlikely inspired Rodrigo beat everyone to a long shot rebound for a tap-in, securing our spot in the final. It was an special match as with that win came a new record for Confiança…

A bit of history

Before we move on to the Final I’d like to deviate a bit from the regular format of these entries, and maraud into the land of blogging to talk to you guys a little more the brazilian state championship. Turns out this week I was contacted by a brazilian historian, football fan and FM player who was following the series. I asked him to tell me a bit more about the State Championships in Brazil and why they’re so important over there.

He told me that the whole thing is about how Brazilian football developed historically. Anything resembling a true national league didn’t exist before 1971. The previous editions of the national league did not include clubes from every state or were Cup tournments with a knockout format, where only the state champions took part.

The brazilian side that won 1919 South American Championship, the first in the national team history.

This happened because Brasil is enourmous geographically speaking, but was really poorly connected before 1960s. There were almost no railways or highways, so State Championships were the most important objetive of the season. These leagues are actually way older than Série A, B, C or D. In fact, until 1990s, State Championships were thought of as highly as the National Leagues; and in minor states, like Sergipe, the local matchups are the only chance those clubs have to compete for something. Some people from states like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo claim that State Leagues should end, but this is pointless for a place like Sergipe.

As a result, Brazilian football, from a national point of view, was built by powerful state sides. There are 12 teams who are considered “big” on Brazil (more than in any other country) because they are actually the big clubs from the richest states (Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Minas Gerais and Rio Grande do Sul). However there are plenty of clubs are that considered a big side on their State but not nationally. Confiança is a good example.

The 2019 Campeonato Carioca winners, Flamengo, are one of the biggest sides on Brazil and the continent. They went on to win the 2019 Copa Libertadores.

Clubs from Sergipe never really enjoyed national success, but football was introduced early there. On Amazonic states, like Amapá, Rondônia or Roraima, there was no organized football until the 1970s. But on Northeast states, football clubs have been establishing since the 1920s, or even before. So, every northeast state (apart Piauí and Maranhão maybe) have clubs with lots of passionate fans and a really glorious past, including epic sides who could and can, on a good day, give teams like Pelé’s Santos FC a run for their money on a friendly or a Cup matchup. On Sergipe state, those clubs are Confiança and Sergipe. Traditional and important local powerhouses.

Also, the Northeastern Region have a strong and common sense of idendity. So, Northeast League is the only regional championship currently being played on Brasil. Confiança plays every season this important competition, facing national reputate sides, like Vitória, Bahia, Sport Recife, Santa Cruz, Ceará and Fortaleza.

Thanks @bambam_zara for all the cool info! Glad you’re enjoying the series, hermano!

The big match(es)

So, going back to FM, the win at the Ser-Con Derby got us a PlayOff final vs. Lagarto. The final is played as a two legged affair, with the team that tops the Second Stage Group having “home advantage” as the second leg is played at their ground.

We struggled a bit on the first leg, creating over 30 shots and more than 20 on target, but falling 1 – 0 in the end thanks to a quick-witted Lagarto striker who took advantage of a defensive mistake. As such, the series went back to the Batistão with us needing a win to take it all. Luckily the team came up with one of our best performances so far and won 5 – 0, displaying a fantastic brand of attacking football.

That way Confiança takes their second straight Sergipe State title, the 23rd of their history. Now the focus shifts to the Copa Nordeste and the soon to begin Serie C, were we go from top dogs to minnows and try to take on the challenge the board gave us to avoid the drop, though I feel after last time’s performances maybe a promotion challenge could be on the cards.

Until then, thanks for reading and take care!

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