Rio de Janeiro, Dec 30 (IANS):
Fluminense and Brazil goalkeeper Diego Cavalieri believes the 2012 Brazilian champions have been handed a challenging Copa Libertadores group for 2013.
In South America’s most coveted club tournament, the Tricolour were last week drawn alongside Huachipato, of Chile, Caracas from Venezuela and the winners of the qualifiers between Gremio and Ecuadorian side LDU Quito, reports Xinhua.
“The group is difficult. We have the Chilean champions (Huachipato), a long trip to Venezuela and also a daunting confrontation against either Gremio or LDU. This year (2012) we also had a difficult group but our squad is more mature,” the former Liverpool stopper said.
Earlier this year, Fluminense breezed through their group, with the best record in the competition, and eliminated Internacional in the Round of 16.
But Argentine giants Boca Juniors knocked out the Rio club in the quarterfinals to end Fluminense’s hopes of an inedited Libertadores crown.
Cavalieri also underlined the importance of another good start if the club hopes to go far next year.
“The first two games are fundamental. We start against Caracas, away from home, and soon afterwards face Gremio or LDU. These two games will be important,” the 29-year-old Brazil international said.
Diego Cavalieri was instrumental in Fluminense’s Brazilian championship success in 2012. A string of excellent performances earned him the accolade of best goalkeeper in the division.
His fine form also did not go unnoticed by former Selecao coach Mano Menezes. Cavalieri was awarded his first international cap in September against Argentina.