Campeonato Apertura 2014 – Season Preview (Part Two)

In our second part of our preview for the 2014 Apertura season we take a look at the teams that finished in the bottom half of the Primera Division last season as well as the two newly promoted sides. A feature of this preview is the fact that seven of the nine teams previewed all have new managers this season.

In El Salvador there have been significant comings at Cobresal with eight players arriving, including former Rangers keeper Nicolas Peric, whilst just two have departed have departed at this stage. For the first time in a number of years Cobresal were not drawn into the relegation battle during the Clausura season and they will be looking to build on that this season.

Staying up north and there have been some comings and goings at Antogafasta including new manager Jaime Vera, who left Iquique in the off season. He has brought a number of his former players with him including Nicolas Ortiz and Gerson Martinez whilst the signing of Ruben Farfan from Universidad de Chile could be quite handy. The most notable departures have been Kevin Harbottle, Juan Gonzalo Lorca and Michael Silva. Antofagasta have tended to be bit of a yo-yo, spending a couple of years in the top flight before dropping back down into the Primera B. With a manager such as Vera in charge they will be looking to avoid such a repeat and consolidate their position in the top flight of Chilean football.

Since the departure of Jorge Sampaoli life hasn’t been good for Universidad de Chile, as a string of managers have failed to reach the heights of the man now in charge of the national team. Next cab off the rank is former Universidad Catolica manager Martin Lasarte, who is sure to get a tasty reception in the next clasico universitario. There has been significant movement in the off season in terms of players as well with some notable arrivals as well as departures.

The significant departures have been Jose Rojas, who is joining Jorge Valdivia in the UAE; Isaac Diaz and Juan Rodrigo Rojas, who both have gone north Mexico; and Igor Lichnovsky who has finally made the move to Europe and joined Porto. Coming the other way has been Gustavo Canales for the second time; Cristian Cuevas on loan from Chelsea; and up and coming defender Benjamin Vidal from O’Higgins. With Colo Colo also strengthening in the off season it will be a tough task for Lasarte to match their fiercest rivals in the chase for the title.

Another team that has had a change of manager in the off season was Union La Calera, who have given former player Ariel Pererya his first managerial position post his retirement in 2013. Pererya, who played for La Calera in two spells from 2005-10 and 2013-14, has made a number of signings including Jean Paul Pineda from Rangers, Lucas Giovini from Nublense and Michael Silva from Antofagasta. He will have a tough task nonetheless as Union La Calera currently sit bottom of the coeficiente de rendimiento table, newly promoted teams aside, and will have their work cut out to avoid a drop into the Primera B, where coincidentally their new manager was top scorer in 2010 and 2011.

Sitting just above Union La Calera on the coeficiente de rendimiento table is Audax Italiano, who like the aforementioned La Calera have also appointed a new manager for this season in the form of Jorge Pellicer. Pellicer, who won the title with Huachipato two years ago, has signed Marco Sebastian Pol from Wanderers as well bring across two of his former charges from Huachipato, Jose Contreras and goalkeeper Nery Veloso. Like other in danger of a drop to the Primera B, Audax will be need to be picking up points on a regular basis.

Yet another team to change managers in the off season were Santiago Wanderers as they secured the services of former Palestino manager, Emiliano Astorga. They have made a handy acquisition in the form of Gonzalo Barriga from O’Higgins who joins former Colo Colo player Roberto Gutierrez, who previously played under Astorga at Palestino, where he spent a fairly successful spell scoring thirteen times in twenty-one matches. Most of their other signings have been from the lower divisions of Chilean football although Marco Medel was signed from Audax Italiano. Departing the scene were the aforementioned Marco Sebastian Pol, Boris Sagredo and Leonardo Valencia amongst others.

The man Emiliano Astorga replaced at Santiago Wanderers was Ivo Basay, who now is the new manager of Nublense. Basay has brought across his former charge Boris Sagredo as well as Luis Pavez from Union Espanola and Juan Gonzalo Lorca from Antofagasta. A big loss for Nublense is their top scorer from last season, Luciano Vasquez, who played a key role in los diablos rojos’ survival in the Primera Division. Basay has often been seen as one of the rising stars in terms of management but so far has failed to deliver and keeping Nublense in top flight football will definitely be a challenge.

After eighty-five years of playing in the lower divisions of Chilean football, Barnechea make their debut this season in the Primera Division. They will have a tough task ahead of them to stay in the Primera Division and will expect a lot from Oscar Hernandez, who they have signed from Union Espanola and a couple of young loanees from Colo Colo in the form of Ignacio Caroca and Alvaro Salazar.

The other promoted side is San Marcos de Arica, who return to the Primera Division after their brief spell in 2013. They another team to secure the services of a new manager with Fernando Diaz taking charge of the northern most based team in the league. Diaz, who won the 2005 Clausura when he was in charge of Union Espanola, has brought in a number of players including Carlos Labrin and Gabriel Sandoval from Huachipato, Francisco Sanchez and Alejandro Sanchez from Audax Italiano, and Kevin Harbottle from Antofagasta. The fans from Arica can rest assured that their stay in the top flight will be longer than last year, with a guaranteed two seasons at least, but they are surely hoping for a much longer stay.

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