Chilean support huge

DEREK VAN DIEST, EDMONTON SUN

, Last Updated: 7:23 AM ET

Jose Sulantay remembers all the special moments he's had in 50 years of soccer.

The head coach of the Chilean Under-20 national team added Thursday night in Edmonton to that list.

"It was very special to be able to give those fans who came out to support us a little taste of their old country," Sulantay said. "I know a lot of these people left Chile for political reasons and have not been back for 30 years. We were proud that we were able to win and play well in front off all those fans."

The ex-patriots were out in full force as Chile defeated Congo 3-0 in front of over 30,000 fans at Commonwealth. Nearly a third of those in attendance were flag-waving, song-chanting Chilean supporters. And their team gave them reason to cheer.

"It was a great atmosphere," said Chilean midfielder Mauricio Isla. "It felt as though we were playing at home so we wanted to keep playing well. And even when we were up by a couple of goals we wanted to keep pushing forward to entertain the fans."

Sulantay even said playing at Commonwealth Stadium, at times, was better than playing at home in Santiago.

"Sometimes when we play at home and things aren't going well, fans will whistle at us," Sulantay said. "Sometimes Chileans can be negative and it's very tough for us.

"Here they were happy that they just had a chance to see us play. They wanted to see something that some of them have not seen for 30 years. We were very happy to be a part of that."

As happy as the Chilean fans were to see their team beat Congo, they were even happier the victory meant Chile would be returning to Commonwealth Stadium.

With six points from two group games, Chile has clinched a spot in the second round. Regardless if they finish first or second in the group following their final game tomorrow against Austria in Toronto, Chile will return to Edmonton for the next round.


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