Contrasting fortunes in 2017 for Sport Ancash and Sport Rosario

W ith just two games remaining of Peru’s Segunda División, Sport Ancash have been relegated into the abyss of the Peruvian non-league after a 2-2 draw with Sport Loreto. This tops off their remarkable decline, as only 11 months ago Sport Ancash were one game away from the Primera División. In December 2016, Ancash lost the play-offs to Academia Deportiva Cantolao (ADC), and the match is still undergoing an investigation, due to allegations that ADC fielded ineligible players.

Unable to recapture their form from 2016, Sport Ancash looked far too haunted by the alleged injustice of the previous season. If the result were to be overturned, Sport Ancash would be retroactively promoted to La Primera División. Perhaps relying too much on that outcome, the club have been plagued by a year of poor performances. Indeed, Ancash released this statement on their twitter feed.

“This year we decided to prioritise the appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS; French: Tribunal arbitral du sport, TAS), trusting that a resolution will be found in the coming days and the corresponding arbitration award will be issued.”

So it is still possible that, should the result be overturned, Sport Ancash will find themselves in the Primera División next year, but this does not excuse 12 months of apathetic football. Shockingly, Sport Ancash have conceded a league high 73 goals, an average of almost three a match, having scored only 27 in response.

If the the TAS do not rule in their favour, Ancash will drop into the mayhem that is the Copa Peru. Peru does not have a third division, instead, they have a nationwide tournament for amateur teams. The best teams at local level play at district level, with the winners then playing the best of the department, before playing the best of the nation. Interestingly, the winners are promoted into Peru’s top league, whilst the runners-up are promoted into the Segunda. Sport Ancash won the tournament in 2004, whilst their neighbours Sport Rosario won the tournament last year.

Although there may still be hope, it’s difficult to forgive the side for such an abject season. Sport Ancash will eventually have to get over the injustice of their play-off defeat last year, to avoid an embarrassing showing in the Copa Peru.

Sport Rosario, on the other hand, have endured an incredibly positive season. Peru’s top division is played over two stages, and after an excellent start, Sport Rosario now sit 8th in the aggregate table.

With 4 games left and just two points off 6th place, Sport Rosario still stand a chance of qualifying for the first stage of the Copa Sudamericana, the South American equivalent of the Europa League. Whether Sport Rosario make it or not, this season can be considered a great success. Having been promoted to the division through the Copa Peru, fans will be happy to see their club secure a safe mid-table finish, at least.

If there’s room for improvement, it’s in attack. Having only scored 43 goals in 41 games, next season fans will want to see a bit more going forward. Sport Rosario have also struggled to break down more defensive sides, which has led to league high 16 draws this season. Too often, Sport Rosario have taken just a point from games they should have won.

Fans were lucky, however, to witness a mythical event last weekend. Goalkeeper Libman scored a header from a corner in the 94th minute, securing a 1-1 draw against ACD, the very team who beat neighbours Ancash in the aforementioned play-offs last year.

It is a sign familiar to all football fans, with nothing to lose, the goalkeeper runs the length of the field for a corner in the final minutes. More often than not, the opposition team is left with an open goal, but on this occasion, the keeper was the hero, sending a flying header into the bottom corner. The few travelling Sport Rosario fans now have an “I was there” moment to go along with a fine season. Sport Ancash fans will be laughing too, as the draw puts ACD into real danger of relegation.

With 2017 almost over, Huaraz’s two big clubs have had two very different seasons, with both having produced more than their fair share of drama. Whilst Ancash must start again, Rosario will be looking forward to their club’s potential in 2018.

Author: Frederick Clayton
Photo: Facebook Sport Ancash

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