Colombian top-flight side Rionegro Aguilas were forced to play a match on Sunday with just seven players in their squad, including a reserve goalkeeper at centre-back, after COVID-19 and injuries had ravaged their squad.
With 16 players testing positive for the virus in the build-up, seven sidelined through injury and a reserve side that was nowhere near match fitness, Aguilas appealed to Liga Dimayor officials to have the game postponed, but were told they would have to play on regardless.
“I know this is a difficult time, but if there are seven players available, you have to show up with those seven players,” league president Fernando Jaramillo told Win Sports recently. “It is clear that whoever does not show up with lose the points. I understand what’s going on, but you have to show up with all seven players.”
That’s exactly what Aguilas did when Boyaca Chico came to town.
After posting on Twitter that they were only playing to avoid more sanctions, the relegation-threatened side lined up in a revolutionary 3-2-1 formation with backup goalkeeper Juan Valencia brought in at centre-back. He even tried to line up in a goalkeeper shirt, only to be sent back to the dressing room to change.
And somehow, they actually did alright.
Their opponents were so frustrated early on that they made two attacking substitutions within just 13 minutes, but even that wasn’t enough to break Aguilas’ resolve and the hosts managed to keep things goalless until the 57th minute.
Chico managed to bag three goals between then and the 79th minute, when disaster struck for Aguilas. Midfielder Giovanny Martinez was forced off with an injury, at which point the referee had to abandon the game because Aguilas were under the minimum number of players required.
The game ended with Aguilas registering just two shots, 12% of possession and a whole lot of passive-aggressive tweets which made the whole thing a real spectacle to watch.
To end the evening, Aguilas wrote on Twitter: “We lost the match, but we are going to win the battle against COVID-19. We are so proud of you guys.”