Chapecoense to play first game since plane crash in January

    Story highlights

    • Chapecoense to play again in January
    • Club lost most of its squad in plane crash

    (CNN)The Brazilian football team which lost most of its squad in a plane crash in Colombia last month will return to action for the first time at the end of January, club officials have confirmed to CNN.

    Chapecoense will face Inter de Lages on January 29 in the opening round of the Santa Caterina state championship at its Arena Conda stadium in Chapeco.
    A plane carrying Chapecoense players and staff went down as it approached José María Cordova International Airport in Medellin on November 28, killing 71 people on board.
    Three players were among six people to survive the crash, while nine did not travel with the squad which was due to play Atletico Nacional in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final.
    The charter plane's pilot told air traffic controllers that the aircraft was "in total electric failure and without fuel" moments before crashing, according to audio released to the Colombian media this month.
    Chapecoense has since been awarded the Copa Sudamericana title by South American football association CONMEBOL.
    The experienced Vagner Mancini was announced as the new manager of Chapecoense last week after previous coach Caio Junior perished in the air crash.
    Spanish champion Barcelona has also invited Chapecoense to play a friendly match at its famous Nou Camp stadium in mid-2017.
    A statement on the Catalan club's website last week also stated its intent to "collaborate on the institutional and sporting reconstruction of Chapecoense."
    Players from Barca and its arch-rival Real Madrid also posed together before this month's El Clasico fixture in solidarity with the grieving club.
    Meanwhile, rival clubs in Brazil have reportedly asked the country's football federation that Chapecoense be exempt from relegation from the top division for three seasons as it attempts to rebuild.
    It was unable to play last weekend's final round of this season's Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A, and finished mid-table.
    Demerson, one of the players who did not travel with the squad, told CNN this month that the club would "come back strong."