Chapecoense seek inspiration from timely trip to Japan
TOKYO (Reuters) - Brazilian club Chapecoense are hoping to take inspiration from playing in Japan as they continue to rebuild after all but three of their squad were killed in a plane crash en route to the Copa Sudamericana final in Colombia last November.
Chapecoense were awarded the trophy following the disaster and are in Japan to play the Urawa Red Diamonds in Saitama on Tuesday in the annual Suruga Bank Championship between the reigning J.League Cup and Copa Sudamericana holders.
The Brazilian side's manager Vinicius Eutropio believes it is important for his team to take a spiritual lesson from being in a country that was devastated by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami but has found its footing since.
"This is a country which showed the entire world what recovery is all about," Eutropio was quoted by Kyodo news agency as telling reporters on Monday.
"We are in the process of rebuilding and we want to take whatever we can from here that will help us on our path to recovery."
Eutropio added that his side were well prepared for their first competitive overseas match since the crash on a mountain near Medellin that claimed 71 lives.
"This match means something to us. We are serious about it and we hope to give it everything we have at this point in time," he added.
"There is an intercontinental trophy at stake, which is something Chapecoense have never won (on the pitch). So it's imperative for us to take this silverware back home.
"We are expecting a very difficult game. We've had a long trip to get here, have jet lag and our opponents are a quality side. I've only been in charge for 30 days, but I have faith in my players and hope to take a win back to Brazil."
Urawa, who are also playing in the event founded in 2008 for a first time, are looking forward to a match that they feel will be emotional for both sides.
"(Chapecoense) are moving forward one step at a time and we are fortunate to have the opportunity to play them," captain Yuki Abe said. "I've played a lot of games in my career, but I think this is one I will remember for the rest of my life."
(Reporting by John O'Brien in Singapore; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)