“Let them know that they will suffer. But also, to be clear, that there is a great possibility of learning from this experience." Daniel Farías has thought about everything. His side will need to deal with playing at an altitude of 3400 metres in Cusco, which is where Real Garcilaso host their home matches. In Phase 1 of the CONMEBOL Libertadores Deportivo La Guaira will travel to the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega stadium in their first match of preseason. This is why they have a plan of travelling to the city with the highest altitude in the world, La Paz, until the fixture takes place on the 20th January.
It wasn't by chance that Farías chose La Paz. He was the coach of The Strongest in 2017 and decided it would be the best city to train in. In 2016, with the same club but as the assistant to César Farías, his brother, he also visited La Paz. His brother was the coach of Venezuela between 2007 and 2013 and is the current head coach of Bolivia. He knows the terrain and understands how you prepare to play at such high altitudes. "The reality is the adjustments are minimal. The idea is to keep the majority of the players with us, the players who will help us grow - both in the Libertadores as well as the league - and we have a real chance of qualifying."
Deportivo La Guaira isn't your typical team. On their website they have this list of values:
- Honesty in our thoughts, words and actions
- Respect to value and appreciate your neighbour
- Perseverance and commitment in the effort to achieve our goals
- The spirit to overcome
- Professionalism, proactivity and innovation
- Teamwork and inclusion
That courage has brought them to this point: they are the only debuting side in the CONMEBOL Libertadores 2019. Deportivo La Guaira earned that name in 2013 when the team moved to Vargas, close to Caracas. Before then they were known as Real Esppor Club, a name which contains a mix of Spanish and Portuguese, due to the origin of their founders.
They quickly won their place in Venezuelan football. "Navigating towards success" is the motif of the institution. A major part of their project is producing young starlets. Víctor García and Luis Morgillo are just two of the names to come through the club's academy.
What came as a surprise to many was how strong La Guaira were in the international tournaments: they've already been involved in three Sudamericanas and have eliminated some important sides in that tournament including Emelec, Universidad Católica and Deportes Tolima. They've also won two Copas de Venezuela, in 2014 and 2015.
However they want more. They always want more. For that reason Farías said this: "We must believe in who we are."