Rio de Janeiro: Devastated by an air crash disaster five weeks ago, Brazilian football club Chapecoense are set to rebuild their team with the signing of 18 to 20 new players for the upcoming season.
The horrific crash in Colombia claimed 71 lives on November 28 last year including most of the senior players from the side.
They were due to play Colombia’s Atletico Nacional in the Copa Sudamericana final.
“No player this season will use the shirts that were worn by Jackson Follmann, Neto or Alan Ruschel,” the club’s director of football Rui Costa was quoted as saying by ESPNFC on Tuesday.
The shirt numbers of goalkeeper Jackson Follmann, centre-back Neto and full-back Alan Ruschel — all of those who survived the crash — will be reserved for them as they continue recovery and a possible return to the pitch, Costa said.
“More than a tribute, we expect Alan and Neto to come back and wear them. Follmann sadly won’t be able to but he will certainly be back here with us in some capacity. The only ones that can wear those jerseys are them.”
The new season starts on January 26 with a home game against Joinville.
Costa did however confirm that the bulk of the new squad will be loan signings from rival clubs who have come out in full force to back Chapecoense’s rebuilding efforts after the crash.
“We are resorting to a lot of loans. That is a tool for bringing together quality, speed and budget. Many clubs are being partners in this,” he added.
“We looked at 90 players, we whittled that down to 50 and finally had a list of 38 players that got down to the number of players we have today.
“We have a group ready to start pre-season training. We’ll probably have between 25 and 27 players.”