Giovanni Savarese, coach for the New York Cosmos soccer team, described his visit to Cuba and the amicable game against the Cuban national team as unforgettable. “It was without a doubt an extraordinary experience, beyond what we imagined”, said Savarese.
The Cosmos won with a score of 4 to 1 against the Cuban team in an amicable game played in Havana´s Pedro Marrero Stadium, with Spanish forward Raúl González, ex-player of the Real Madrid watching from the stands. The game was considered historical and was attended by Brasilian Edson Arantes do Nascimento (popularly known as “Pelé”), President of Honor for the Cosmos. After the game the American coach thanked the Cuban Federation for the invitation and the Cuban people for their warm welcome.
“All the boys are very honored to have been part of this historical moment”, he pointed out.
“The Cosmos team would love to come back here”, he continued, and added that a visit by the Cuban team to New York could also be possible.
About the game results, Savarese said that they never thought about the score and that the team is always very respectful of its rivals. Their winning attitude always influenced their performance.
On his end, Cuban coach Raúl González Triana, said that his players did not perform so well in the first half but did much better in the second.“ It´s always good for us to play games such as these, it helps us a lot”, he added. On the Field The New York team out-performed the local team, especially during the first half when Zimbabwe striker Lucky Mkosana scored two goals, the first at 8 minutes and the second at 41 minutes.
The other scorers were Uruguayan mid-fielder Sebastián Guenzatti (32) and American Hagop Chirishian (35).
Cuban player Andy Vaquero scored at 50 minutes in the game and was the sharpest with his kicks from midfield yet was unable to put in at least two additional offensive manoeuvres.
The game, enjoyed by local fans, was played under the rain and the stadium was almost completely full. In the bleachers both Cuban and American flags were being waved, in addition to posters mainly dedicated to Raúl González, the player mostly cheered by Cuban fans, many of which wore T-shirts of the Real Madrid and Barcelona, the two teams mostly followed on the Island.
The Cosmos is the first American professional soccer team that has played in Cuba since 1978, when the Chicago Sting visited the local team.
Founded in 1970 and part of the NASL, the Cosmos made history from 1975 to 1984 when it invested large sums of money to hire world class stars in the last years of their professional careers, among them Pelé, German Franz Beckenbauer and Dutch Johan Neeskens.
The last trip to the island by a professional American Sports team was on March 28, 1999, when the Baltimore Orioles came to play against the Cuban national baseball team.
The Cuban soccer team is getting ready to play at the World Cup, which will take place from July 7 to 26 in the United States.