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The champion of América heads to Japan for the Suruga Bank Cup

The champion of América heads to Japan for the Suruga Bank Cup

Argentina's River Plate wants to prolong one of the happiest moments of their history after winning the Copa Libertadores for the third time as the club journeys to Japan for the Suruga Bank Cup, the first of several international cups they will play in the coming months.

River left Thursday afternoon for Japan where they will play Gamba Osaka next Tuesday in the Suruga Bank Cup, the tournament between the last champions of the Copa Sudamericana and the Japan Cup.

At least a hundred fans went to Ezeiza airport to bid farewell to the champions of América. The delegation had a stopover in Frankfurt before arriving in Tokyo and then moving on to Osaka, with the idea of being the second Argentine team to win this trophy after Arsenal won it in 2008.

For this match the team will consist of Marcelo Barovero and Julio Chiarini (goalkeepers), Gabriel Mercado, Jonathan Maidana, Eder Álvarez Balanta, Leonel Vangioni, Ramiro Funes Mori, Camilo Mayada (defensemen), Matías Kranevitter, Luis González, Leonardo Ponzio, Carlos Sánchez, Augusto Solari, Leonardo Pisculichi, Gonzalo Martínez, Nicolás Bertolo and Tabaré Viudez (midfielders), Javier Saviola, Lucas Boyé and Sebastián Driussi (strikers).

The team will be without striker Lucas Alario, author of the first 'Millionaire' goal in the Cup final, who is out with a bruised ankle that forced him to be replaced, nor will the club have the services of Uruguayan Rodrigo Mora, who confirmed his transfer to Saudi club Al Nassr, who he will join in the coming days.

Another notable absence is striker Fernando Cavenaghi, who immediately after lifting the Copa Libertadores trophy said that his time with the club had come to an end as the 34 year old will now assess how he will continue his career.

But beyond these absences in the next match, River is prepared to continue its international showing, which began with winning the 2014 Copa Sudamericana and the 2015 Recopa Sudamericana in February, all under the command of Marcelo Gallardo, who himself lifted the Libertadores trophy as a player in 1996.

In just over twelve months, Gallardo, 29, has secured a leading role in the club's history, as he had the hard mission to succeed the successful and charismatic Ramon Diaz, with a team that showed a brilliant game at moments and character to overcome adversity.

Apart from the Suruga Bank, the club will try in the coming months to retain the Copa Sudamericana and at year's end will play the Club World Cup, where they will start in the semifinals on December 16 or 17 in Japan against an opponent to be confirmed. If they win this first match they could clash with the mighty FC Barcelona in the final.

River won its only Copa Intercontinental -the precursor of the Club World Cup- in 1986 by overcoming Romanian club Steaua Bucharest with a goal from Uruguayan Antonio Alzamendi.

Moreover, in the first months of 2016 the will have the opportunity to play once again the Recopa Sudamericana against the winner of the next Copa Sudamericana and the Copa Libertadores, now as defending champion.