The impact of having Boca Juniors’ favourite son on your presidential ticket was immediately clear and it reflected at the polls on Sunday as Jorge Amor Ameal swept to victory to be named the club’s new president.
The long, drawn out process of counting the votes was taking place while Boca slipped to defeat away to Rosario Central and in the early hours of Monday morning Ameal was confirmed until 2023. An overwhelming majority of almost 53% beat the campaign of Christian Gribaudo, backed by current president Daniel Angelici, into second with 30%.
Leal with vice-president Mario Pergolini were hotly tipped to win the election as soon as Juan Román Riquelme aligned himself with their campaign as the second vice-president and despite attacks from Angelici and Diego Maradona, supporters couldn’t be dissuaded.
This will be Ameal’s second spell as Boca president having held the position between 2008-11 after the death of then-president Pedro Pompilio. Ameal had been vice-president and took over to lift two league titles during the period but perhaps more crucially oversaw a return to the club for Carlos Bianchi and an important contract renewal of Juan Román Riquelme.
Daniel Angelici succeeded Ameal in 2011 but his failure to add to Boca’s six Copa Libertadores titles in a period where rivals River Plate have enjoyed great success internationally, only increased supporter frustration.
Ameal has promised to ‘restore transparency to Boca’ but more than anything the club will be hoping that Riquelme can help steer the club back to the glory days that he experienced as a player.
Gustavo Alfaro admitted after Sunday’s defeat to Rosario Central that his cycle has come to an end so the first order of business will be appointing a new manager – one who can maintain the Superliga title challenge and more importantly go for another Libertadores title in 2020.
Miguel Ángel Russo, who lifted the trophy as Boca manager in 2007 with Riquelme as the side’s playmaker, is hotly tipped to return with another of the players from that side, Sebastián Battaglia as assistant. Eduardo Domínguez and José Pekerman are two other names that are linked with the role but with Russo free since leaving Cerro Porteño, the 63-year-old is available.
Aside from choosing a new manager, Boca must also decide what to do with a number of the current squad but none more so than Carlos Tevez. The 35-year-old has played an increasingly marginal role in recent months and despite reports that Tevez and Riquelme would both like a stay for the club favourite, negotiating that could be difficult.
Particularly given the overhaul to the squad that may well be in order. Boca and Riquelme are said to already have made contact with two players they are keen on, Peru centre-forward Paolo Guerrero and former Argentina winger Nicolás Gaitán. Both vastly experienced but players that would be coming in for the short-term target of helping lift the Libertadores and on presumably high wages.
Riquelme back at La Bombonera is a welcome sight and now the real work begins to see if president Jorge Amor Ameal can restore former glories.