Argentine fans will get a rare treat Wednesday night as powerhouse Boca Juniors comes to Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale to play the inaugural Challenge Cup against the Strikers.
Boca Juniors, based in Buenos Aires, is one of the largest clubs in South America. It has won 18 international titles and more national titles than any team in Argentina. The storied club has produced many world-class players, including Diego Maradona, Román Riquelme and Carlos Tevez, who is rumored to be heading back to the club next week from Italian team Juventus.
The current roster includes several national-team players such as former Real Madrid midfielder Fernando Gago, Uruguay World Cup member Nicolás Lodeiro, and Italian international forward Dani Osvaldo.
“For me it is a very special game, and I know that for my teammates as well, and my club,” Strikers midfielder Manny Gonzalez said. “Boca Juniors is one of the biggest clubs in the world. They are very well known. For us and our fans it is going to be a very special game, and let’s hope we get a good crowd and we can give them a good match.”
Strikers forward Jose Angulo added: “To play against a team with so much rich history and so many championships is a great honor. I remember growing up as a kid watching Boca Juniors in the Copa Libertadores and watching all the great players that have been through that club, and to get a chance to play against them this Wednesday is a privilege and a great honor, and I’m very excited.”
Boca Juniors is in its offseason and is using the match for summer training. They plan to bring their 22 top players who are not playing Copa America, according to club president of international futbol Fabian Parra.
“We hope it is a big event,” he said. “Even though we have more titles we still have to play every game. It’s an honor to play in the U.S. to showcase Boca Juniors.”
Boca Juniors general manager Juan Simon suggested the club will be back in the future.
“We hope it’s the beginning of more visits here,” Simon said. “The players need competition during the offseason. The most important is the preparation. We hope there is a large crowd, everyone from the team is here aside from the Copa America players.”
Who: Fort Lauderdale Strikers vs. Boca Juniors.
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday.
Where: Lockhart Stadium.
Tickets: Stadium box office and www.strikers.com.