Porte Alegre-native and Tigres UANL forward Rafael Sobis is bracing himself for a hostile reception when he returns to boyhood club Internacional.
Internacional welcome big-spending Mexicans Tigres to the Estadio Jose Pinheiro Borda for Wednesday’s Copa Libertadores semi-final first leg in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre.
Tigres’ trip to South America marks a return for Brazilian Sobis, who emerged from Inter’s youth ranks in 2004 and spent two-and-a-half years at the club before moving to Real Betis.
The 30-year-old later returned to Inter on loan from Al-Jazira in 2010-11.
Sobis, who scored a goal and assisted another as Tigres overcame Emelec 2-1 on aggregate in the quarters in May, is not expecting to be cheered by the home crowd.
“The first time I played against Inter they shouted my name, ‘Rafa, Rafa’. I made a goal to win 2-1 and the next game they wanted to kill me, so I do not expect praise,” Sobis said.
“Inter is where I played most of my life, but it is important to defend the other side and I really want to do this with Tigres.”
Tigres – bidding to become the first Mexican team to win the Libertadores title – are in their off-season, after Liga MX concluded in May, which is set to mean a competitive debut for prized recruit Andre-Pierre Gignac.
The France international striker surprisingly left Marseille as a free agent in favour of Tigres, while Nigerian forward Ikechukwu Uche arrived from Villarreal.
Sobis added: “It’s a unique opportunity for my team. I think not only me, all the players who are here working to win.
“The two teams are ready and it will be a very nice semi-final.”
While Tigres are underdone for competitive matches, Inter’s Brazilian Serie A campaign is in full swing.
Inter saw off Santa Fe 2-1 on aggregate in May’s quarter-finals, and they have since played 10 league fixtures, only winning three matches, while losing four and drawing three.
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