QUILMES 2003-2005: DEL ASCENSO A LA LIBERTADORES

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Nadie creía demasiado en las chances de Quilmes. Era entonces una novedad en los torneos internacionales modernos. Había participado sin éxito en la Libertadores de 1979, después de ganar el Metropolitano 1978, y unos meses antes de aquel febrero de 2005, jugado una fase de Copa Sudamericana, en la que cayó por falta de oficio en una cerradísima serie ante San Lorenzo. Del otro lado estaba Colo Colo, un gigante de Chile y otrora campeón de América. Para colmo, la ida había sido 0-0 y había que definir en Santiago.

Pero no sólo lo externo le jugaba en contra al Cervecero: el calendario argentino hacía que, para los equipos chicos, fuera imposible sostener el plantel en caso de clasificarse a la Libertadores. El propio microclima tampoco rebosaba de confianza, porque Quilmes llegó a esa serie ante el Cacique sin siete de los titulares que, ocho meses antes, habían coronado una campaña histórica, acumulando 60 puntos en el regreso a la Primera División. Porque esa historia empezó mucho antes; en julio de 2002, el entonces poco conocido Gustavo Alfaro venía de ser campeón en la B Nacional con Olimpo y llegó a un club perseguido por el karma de las finales perdidas y la obligación impostergable del ascenso. Pero las dificultades no tardaron en llegar. La exigencia de estar arriba no se cumplía y, tras un 0-3 de local ante el San Martín sanjuanino, Alfaro quedó en la cuerda floja.

Aquella noche, se empezó a gestar ese DT pragmático que hoy está instalado en Primera División y goza de un gran presente en Huracán. A pesar de la presión popular, Alfaro tuvo una chance más y no la desperdició. Cambió la línea de tres en el fondo por la de cuatro y Quilmes creció hasta terminar tercero en la general y acceder a la final ante Argentinos Juniors, donde venció por un global de 1-0 gracias a un cabezazo de Agustín Alayes en el partido de Ida. “Esto es de ustedes, cuídenlo porque Quilmes no debe bajar nunca más”, dijo el técnico mientras daba la vuelta olímpica en la cancha de Ferro.

Pasó el tiempo y Quilmes bajó no una sino varias veces, pero ese equipo quedará en el recuerdo para siempre. Y mucho más el que llegó después. En el retorno a Primera, y apuntalado por Rodrigo “Chapu” Braña, el propio Alayes, Raúl Saavedra, Leandro Benítez y la llegada de experimentados como Marcelo Pontiroli, Juan Manuel Herbella, Ariel “Chupa” López y, para el segundo semestre, Silvio René Carrario, el equipo cervecero consiguió 31 puntos en el Torneo Apertura 2003 y 29 en el Clausura 2004, que le valieron la clasificación directa a la Copa Sudamericana y al repechaje de la Libertadores.

¿Cómo jugaba el Quilmes de Alfaro? Principalmente era un equipo solidario. “Es importante saber que somos menos que el resto, pero nunca sentirnos menos. Hay que entender esa diferencia”, decía el entrenador. Braña y Rodrigo Meléndez eran las banderas de un mediocampo combativo y muy duro de superar. Una defensa dura y siempre ordenada y, en ataque, mucha efectividad. Era difícil ver que ese equipo generara demasiadas situaciones de gol, pero convertía las que tenía. Y contaba con un as en la manga: la pegada magistral del Chino Benítez. Esa arma que traía desde la B y que le había dado ni más ni menos que el gol del ascenso, siguió dando frutos en primera: Alayes a River, Racing (tres veces) y Vélez, Gerlo a Boca y San Lorenzo, fueron algunos de los goles claves que fueron gestados por la zurda del que luego sería ídolo de Estudiantes.

Ganarle a cuatro de los grandes en el primer año en Primera no es cosa de todos los días. Boca, River y Racing cayeron en su primera visita al Estadio Centenario, que, inaugurado en 1995, nunca antes había visto partidos de elite. Y ante el Ciclón, el triunfo fue a domicilio, gracias al citado bombazo de Gerlo. Unos días después, Quilmes celebró el 25º aniversario de su único título profesional venciendo 1 a 0 a Gimnasia como local y quedó segundo a tres puntos del Boca de Bianchi, que a fin de ese año sería campeón del mundo. La utopía de pelear el título, desde ya, no fue posible, pero ese equipo sí se dio el gusto de salir ileso de La Bombonera y El Monumental, estadios que muchos sólo habían visto por televisión.

Resultado de imagen para camps carrario lopez braña melendez

Aquella temporada histórica se cerró con un empate sin goles ante Talleres en casa. Se sabía que no iba a ser posible ver a esos 11 juntos otra vez. Gerlo a River, Herbella a Inter de Porto Alegre, Garnier a Libertad y Meléndez a Estudiantes, fueron algunos de los que se despidieron esa tarde. Y seis meses después, tras una campaña aceptable con 24 puntos en el Apertura, se fueron Braña (también al Pincha), Chupa López (Necaxa) y Tweety Carrario (Argentinos).

Y fue así que, con una fisonomía distinta y otros nombres, Quilmes encaró su segunda participación en el certamen continental más importante. Nelson Vivas -que había vuelto al club tras su retiro- y Miguel Caneo, fueron importantes en ese semestre de transición, mientras que Diego Markic, Pablo «Vitamina» Sánchez, Matías Almeyda y Aldo Osorio llegaron para el desafío de la Libertadores.

Tras el ya citado 0-0 en la ida, la cosa en Chile empezó complicada. Colo Colo se puso en ventaja muy rápido y Quilmes lo empató con un gol recordadísimo de Diego Torres. Pero a los 30 minutos, el Chavo Desábato atajó una pelota que se metía. Penal, expulsión y gol. Todo parecía irremontable.

Imagen relacionada

Desábato enfrenta a Grafite en Quilmes vs San Pablo.

En aquella Libertadores del 2005, se aplicaba por primera vez en Sudamérica la regla del gol de visitante. Por eso quedó en la historia del club ese centro bajo de Vitamina Sánchez, esa presión de Caneo y esa confusión entre Claudio Bravo -el hoy arquero del Manchester City- y su defensor Miguel Riffo, que la mandó a guardar en contra. Quedaba media hora y Quilmes, aunque ya no era el mismo, sacó a relucir su esencia guerrera para volver a Buenos Aires con la clasificación, con un fenomenal Pontiroli como figura excluyente.

La historia de Gustavo Alfaro en Quilmes terminó algunos meses después. Quilmes se dio el lujo de jugarle de igual a igual a San Pablo (a la postre campeón) en lo que fue empate 2-2 en casa, pero finalmente no pudo pasar la fase de grupos. El técnico pagó caras dos decisiones: priorizar la Copa sobre el torneo (lo que devino en malos resultados en ambos frentes) y ponerse del lado de la dirigencia mientras el plantel reclamaba deudas en la previa de un partido decisivo ante The Strongest. La seguidilla de derrotas terminó en la cancha de Almagro, donde Quilmes perdió 2 a 0 y Alfaro declaró “si yo me quedo, este equipo no saca un punto más”.

Sin embargo, pasados los años, se toma real dimensión de lo conseguido. Y todo lo vivido en esa etapa fue sencillamente inolvidable. Tanto como esa noche, hace 13 años exactos, cuando Quilmes puso patas para arriba todos los pronósticos de propios y extraños, al superar a un grande de América en su propia casa gracias a un imborrable gol en contra.

Por: @Aliseleme

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