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Chapecoense back in training after air crash

Fans pay tribute to the Brazilian football team Chapecoense Real, which was decimated by a plane crash that killed 19 of its players and 24 other club members on November 28, 2016 © AFP/File / Nelson Almeida

SAO PAULO, Brazil, Jan 7Brazilian football team Chapecoense on Friday held its first training session since its squad was wiped out in a plane crash in November.

The club from southern Brazil on January 21 plays its first game since the tragedy which forced it to rebuild its squad from nearly nothing.

Leaning on crutches, one of the injured survivors of the crash, defender Helio Neto, 31, greeted new members of the squad in their dressing room.

The players were presented to the media before starting their first training session at the team’s Arena Conda stadium in Chapeco.

“Today we set out on a new path,” the club’s new president Plinio David De Nes Filho said in comments quoted by local media.

“May it be filled with hope, optimism, determination, effort and much solidarity.”

The tragedy cut short the club’s fairy tale rise from obscurity to the finals of the regional Copa Sudamericana tournament.

Nineteen Chapecoense players and 24 other club members died when the plane crashed in the Colombian mountains on November 28 as they flew to compete in the final.

Chapecoense has finalized the signings of five new players and plans to sign 20 overall to rebuild the squad.

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The club will host Brazilian league opponents Palmeiras for a friendly match on January 21.

Its first competitive fixture since the disaster will be at home against Joinville on January 26.

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