The youngsters have done it again. At the start of the year the U20’s conquered the Holy Grail of Brazilian youth football when they won the Copa São Paulo. Now, ten months later, nine of the the players who took the field in that final played in the second leg of the U20 Copa do Brasil’s final tie. Santos lost the game 3x1 to Criciuma, but won the trophy on away goals because of the 2x0 first leg result. In the absence of the tournament’s top scorer, Diego Cardoso, it was left to defensive midfielder Misael to produce the goal that won the title from a sumptuous free-kick.
Here are the back stage highlights of the victory. Congratulations to Pepinho Macia’s men!
This most recent success is yet another feather in the cap of these group of players. Most of them came up together in the ranks, winning the U15 and U17 Campeonato Paulista before adding the U20 version to the cabinet last year. Now with the Copa São Paulo and Copa do Brasil in there as well, the collection is pretty much complete. Winning the Copa do Brasil earns a spot in the U20 Copa Libertadores, so that is something for the guys to look forward to next year. Before then, they have to try to defend the Copinha title, the preparation for which starts after a meager ten day vacation.
Of course, this title is just a sweetener. The main purpose of youth football is to produce players for the first team. Quite a few of these players already have experience in the first team in the form of Leandrinho, Pedro Castro, Léo Cittadini, and Neílton. Perhaps the only new faces in the professional squad next year will be Lucas Otávio, Gabriel Gasparotto, and Diego Cardoso. The emergence of the last name was a huge surprise to me. When I saw Diego play at the start of the year he looked like nothing special, but he seems to have improved a lot since then.
Kudos again to Diego and co. on a job well done. Onward to defend the Copa São Paulo title!