Espigao – The Underdog of all Underdogs
If you enjoy watching the success of small clubs from far away places, there is not one greater example than the Copinha competitor, Esporte Clube Espigão, from the far northwestern State of Rondonia. If the club should win against the least successful club in its group on Sunday, it will highlight an amazing underdog story.
It is important to understand where this club comes from to truly appreciate its achievement. Esporte Clube Espigão comes from the rural municipality of Espigão d’Oeste in eastern part of the State of Rondonia. While it has a small urban centre, the municipality covers about 4,500 square kilometres with a population of fewer than 30,000. That is fewer than 7 people per square kilometre. Espigão d’Oeste is a mere 6 hours from the State capital of Porto Velho. Porto Velho has a massive population of 390,000. The whole State of Rondonia has a population of about 1.5 million. The following Youtube video, apparently produced by the municipality, provides a little feel for the place and also spends a moment at the club's field.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSAXQnSK9nA
To appreciate the challenge just to get to this tournament, the bus ride to Presidente Prudente from Espigão d’Oeste would be more than 22 hours of driving.
The greatest achievement for Esporte Clube Espigão has to be its 2-0 defeat of the team from one of Brazil's futebol giants, Gremio. The fact that the cliub has already played the two strongest teams in the group (Gremio and Gremio Prudente) and yet allowed a goal is also curious. To make things even more intriguing is the fact that most of their team are born in the State (might be 2 or 3 starters born outside of the State of Rondonia).
Without having been given the opportunity to watch the boys from Esporte Clube Espigão play, one can only speculate what their playing style might be. The game summary against Gremio appears to show that after Espigão scored its first goal at the end of the first half, Gremio's boys started to melt down. Two Gremio players were red carded, one for a challenge on an opponent and the other, later in the game, for a verbal attack on the referee.
If you had any doubts that boys from Espigão d’Oeste are tough enough to handle a larger opponent, the following video gives a hint of what some might do when not on the pitch. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEic8P-_xxY
If Esporte Clube Espigão should win their game on Sunday, they are likely through to the next round. That would be a massive achievement for the boys from the wild west of Brazil.