Third time lucky for Ken Sasaki. After two relatively poor spells with Puerto Montt and Coquimbo Unido, Sasaki has turned his third club Colo-Colo back into the dominant Chilean side that they are well-known across the world for being. Last season in the 2024 edition of the Campeonato Nacional, Colo-Colo won their third straight title. This was the first time this has happened in the existing one stage format since the Colo-Colo side of 1989-1991 won three straight titles. Prior to that, the only side to achieve this feat was Magallanes who won the first three league titles after its foundation in 1933.
The Colo-Colo side of 1991 can claim the status of most successful ever Colo-Colo, and perhaps even Chilean, side of all time. In 1991, they followed their third straight league title with Copa Libertadores success. This remains the only time a Chilean club has won the top continental competition in South America.
In 2002 the Chilean league system introduced the Apertura and Clausura stages. These acted as separate league stages within the same league season. Under this structure, Colo-Colo won four straight titles between 2006-2007, winning both Apertura and Clausura stages. Since then, Universidad de Chile won three straight titles between 2011-2012. The league format returned to the one league stage per year permanently in 2017.
These stats show how well Ken Sasaki has done to win three titles in a row with Colo-Colo and should they retain their title he will become the first manager to lead a Chilean club to four straight titles in the one league stage per season format. Let’s review the 2025 season to see if this incredible feat was achieved.
VivaGlobetrotting #12 | 2025 Season Review
Chilean Campeonato Nacional
In complete contrast to Sasaki’s first title with Colo-Colo, which came through an incredible turnaround shortly after his arrival at the club, the reigning champions were clear favourites for the league title and it was theirs to lose. Last year in the 2024 season, Colo-Colo led the way for the entire campaign before a late surge from Universidad Catolica, coupled with a dramatic loss of form from Colo-Colo, threatened to dethrone Sasaki’s side.
This season followed suit but without the dramatic loss of form. Colo-Colo retained the title with relative ease. This ensured that they became the first Chilean club to win four straight titles within the current league format.
Domestic dominance has certainly been achieved with Colo-Colo running away with the title. Universidad Catolica, their fierce rivals, trailed in second by a huge 23 points. Colo-Colo’s ability to string together several winning runs piled the pressure on rivals to do the same – a feat they could not achieve. Universidad Catolica’s best winning streak was four matches and this came in the first four games of the season. Since then, they only managed to win two games in a row once.
Sasaki was saddened to see his old club Coquimbo Unido relegated. Their season was over and done with fairly early on as they took 9 games to earn their first win and they had just four points at the halfway stage. On a more positive note, Deportes Puerto Montt, Sasaki’s first club, won promotion from the second tier and as such he will come face-to-face with them for the first time since they sacked him.
The Copa Chile is a cup in which Sasaki has had some of his more memorable moments as a manager. With Puerto Montt he guided them to the Semi-Final, a great feat for a second-tier side. With Colo-Colo Sasaki has underperformed as he is yet to win the competition with them.
After reaching the final last year and losing out to Everton de Vina, Sasaki was determined to right these wrongs and win the 2025 edition of the Copa.
The run to the final featured no real threats to Colo-Colo. Universidad Catolica were knocked out by Puerto Montt whilst Universidad de Chile lost to Curico Unido, both in the 2nd round. From this round onwards it was Colo-Colo’s to lose.
After beating Huachipato in the semis, Colo-Colo would meet Deportes Iquique in the final – a fairly easy tie with their side battling relegation from the top-tier. However, complacency presented a viable threat to victory and as such Sasaki would not be taking them lightly.
The Copa Chile final is fought over two legs. In the first leg teams have a chance to put the tie to bed against the lower-ranked sides. This is exactly what happened between Colo-Colo and Iquique. A 4-1 win pretty much won the cup for Colo-Colo, barring an almighty collapse in the second leg.
The first-half suggested that all would not be so easy for Sasaki and co, but a second-half performance of real quality ensured this was not the case. Iquique led 1-0 at half-time before goals from four different players secured the 4-1 win.
The second leg ended in a 1-1 draw and felt rather anti-climatic for a cup final. But the tie was won in the first leg and Iquique didn’t threaten to overturn the deficit in this second leg. Another Marco Bolados penalty was scored, the second across this tie, and this was enough to secure victory for Colo-Colo.
Ken Sasaki has won the domestic double! This cup triumph moved him up to 1st on the Chilean Hall of Fame, meaning that he is the most successful manager to ever have managed in Chile.
The Copa Libertadores is the competition that Sasaki really wants. The top continental competition in South America has only been won once by a Chilean club and this was by the aforementioned 1991 Colo-Colo side. Sasaki wants to make history again.
Several factors stand in his way. The strength of Argentine and, in particular, Brazilian sides being a key factor. Nonetheless, Sasaki has faith in his squad to challenge for continental football both in the present and in the future.
Colo-Colo were drawn alongside last seasons Copa Lib winners Flamengo, Ecuadorian side Barcelona and Cerro Porteno from Paraguay. The expectation from Sasaki’s point of view is to win all four against the non-Brazilian/Argentine sides and compete against clubs from these two stronger nations.
This season, Colo-Colo secured passage through the groups by winning three of the four games against Barcelona and Cerro Porteno. Sasaki’s side did really compete against Flamengo, losing 5-2 over both matches. A good effort against the reigning champions.
Copa Libertadores 2nd Round vs Velez
The 2nd round draw saw Colo-Colo face Argentine side Velez. This would prove to be a very good opportunity for Colo-Colo to progress through to the Quarter-Final despite Velez performing well in the Primera Division. Colo-Colo would play at home first, knowing that a clean sheet would give them a good opportunity to progress. This happened in the form of a 1-0 win with central defender Maximiliano Ramos netting the only goal.
The second leg was a tense affair with Velez scoring the only goal of the game shortly after half-time. The game finished 1-0 to Velez, meaning the tie would be decided through a penalty shootout.
Colo-Colo won the penalty shootout, meaning they would be in the hat for the Copa Libertadores Quarter-Final.
Copa Libertadores Quarter-Final vs San Lorenzo
Colo-Colo were drawn against San Lorenzo, another Argentine club who were alongside Velez battling near the top of the Primera Division. This would be another tricky tie for Sasaki to navigate but one that they could potentially progress through.
The 1st leg was played in Chile with Colo-Colo looking to secure another victory with no away goals being scored. These hopes faded early in the first-half with san Lorenzo scoring the opening goal. Colo-Colo equalised through Maicon Favera but a 1-1 draw gives the advantage to San Lorenzo.
The second leg ended Colo-Colo’s run in the tournament. A crushing 3-0 defeat highlighted several flaws with Sasaki’s attacking approach and perhaps showed his naivety against the top South American sides. San Lorenzo score two early goals to really pile the pressure on Colo-Colo before a late penalty put the tie to bed.
This defeat, whilst perhaps expected and by no means embarrassing, could provide Sasaki with the evidence to change things up a bit against the stronger sides in South America. Overall, though, this has been a very good campaign for Colo-Colo, reaching the quarter-final for the first time under Sasaki. Progress is definitely being made.
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The next post in this series will review how Ken Sasaki has turned Colo-Colo into the dominant domestic side that they now are. It will also look at what changes need to be made in order to achieve continental success.
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