According to the last Argentine census, Álvarez is a town of 8,000 located close to Rosario. Jorge Valdano, born in the area, says that to be roarino is to be exageratedly Argentine. And it must be said that this area is one of the best in the world for producing world class footballers: Lionel Messi, Javier Mascherano, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Mauricio Pocchetino, Eduardo Berizzo, Ángel di María, César Menotti and Mauro Icardi, among others, are all from Rosario. But they are not the only ones who have left and made their name in world football. One of those who has left, Melgar striker Bernardo Cuesta, nears bagging his 100th career goal in a Melgar shirt when his team takes to the pitch on Tuesday night against Caracas.
A spot in Group F is on the line for both Melgar and Caracas. The Peruvians collected an impressive 2-0 win in the first leg on home soil, but Cuesta missed out through suspension. Now, he returns. And returns with everything: "You need the goals, but I try not to despair and that does not affect me. The goals will come when they come, my focus is on supporting the team and reaching the group stage."
The 30-year old Cuesta came up through the youth ranks of Unión de Santa Fe. Later, he featured for Tiro Federal, another team located near Rosario. There he met the famos Julio Zamora, the ex-Newell's striker. Cuesta first arrived in Peru with Melgar in 2012. He's gone back and forth since then, with stints at The Strongest and Junior, but Melgar has become his home. Soon, he'll become synoymous with the club.
"I was a goalkeeper, and I liked that a lot. I played on a small neighborhood pitch in my youth days", Cuesta says. But soon he turned from a goalkeeper to a goalscorer. "We've not yet achieved our goal. There's still 90 minutes to play. To make the group stage, it will take strength and fight. Even with the advantage, nothing is finished", he adds, fully concentrated on the next match, one that could send his side into Group F of the competition, where they'd join heavyweights Palmeiras, San Lorenzo, and Junior de Barranquilla.
The goalscorer has hit the mark 95 times in a Melgar shirt. Now he looks for more.