The Volcanic Champions of Guatemala

The Guatemalan Liga Nacional came to its end this week in a thrilling final match between Antigua GFC and RSD Municipal. The first leg of the final series was played in Guatemala City, the home of the current champions, the red devils of Municipal, and ended with a draw, 1-1. The second leg took place at Estadio Pensativo in Antigua in front of 9,000 fans who saw their team dominating the field and earning a well-deserved 2:1 win and the national title.

Antigua won their 3rd ever title, but remarkably, all of them during the past three years, as in Guatemala two champions are crowned every year.

Before their first title in 2015, Comunicaciones FC won six consecutive tournaments, including beating Municipal in the last three of them. For the people in Antigua, winning the final against a team from the capital city makes the victory taste sweeter. For them, it is also an important step towards becoming a major team in Guatemala.

 Antigua, third title in three years (La Prensa ©)

Antigua, third title in three years (La Prensa ©)

Although the geographic distance between Guatemala City and Antigua is short, the difference between the cities is enormous. Guatemala City is the capital of Guatemala and its largest city too. As every big city in Latin America, it has its poor and dangerous sides, and it’s more lucrative. The dominance of the capital clubs sourced in the high budgets they hold, compare to the rest of the league.

On the other hand, Antigua Guatemala is a beautiful colonial city, who was built by the Spanish conquistadors and served as the capital of the Spanish colony of Guatemala (almost all of Central America). This ancient city is famous for its architecture, beautiful landscape and warm people. The city is surrounded with amazing volcanos that can be seen clearly from their home stadium, which gives a unique atmosphere in home matches.

 The volcano and the fans before the final (La Prensa ©)

The volcano and the fans before the final (La Prensa ©)

The city's football team is a different story – Antigua GFC was founded in 1958 and until 2014 didn't achieve nothing memorable. The club has changed hands several times between private business and the municipal authorities, and suffered from financial instability. In 2014, Antigua were able to buy back their place in Liga Nacional from Heredia Jaguares and since then - things started to get better.

In 2015, the club appointed Argentinian coach Mauricio Tapia, who led the team to its first national title. Tapia did it again a year later and this week he made in for the third time.

Antigua GFC is playing with green and white shirts and nicknamed "Panzas Verdes" (Green Bellies) and "Aguacateros" (Avocado Eaters).  The people in Antigua, like everywhere in Guatemala, are passionate about football. In the final match, the stadium was overcrowed and even some fans with tickets had to stay out. After the game thousands participated in the celebrations at Parque Central all over the night.

 Green bellies? Avocado eaters? You can just call the champions (Antigua GFC ©)

Green bellies? Avocado eaters? You can just call the champions (Antigua GFC ©)

After the euphoria clears out, the club will face its next challenges – becoming a serious national contender that can stand proudly against the rivals from Guatemala City and trying to leave their mark at the continental competitions. If they will continue with their current form, these tasks would not be impossible.