Colombia prepares for must-win battle against Poland

By Arjun Harindranath June 23, 2018


The Colombian national team practice in Kazan. Image courtesy of @SeleccionColombia

After a disappointing loss to Japan in their first group game last Tuesday, the Colombian national team will face a highly-ranked Polish side in what will be a must-win battle for either side today.

Group H had always been an evenly balanced group in terms of relative ability but few would have expected Japan to have beaten this Colombian side. Stacked with footballing talents like James Rodriguez, who was unable to start the game due to injury, and Juan Fernando Quintero, most believed this would have been Colombia’s easiest challenge in the group.

Yet things did not go according to plan as defender Carlos Sanchez was sent off for a handball within three minutes of the kickoff, making it the second-fastest red card in World Cup history after Uruguay’s Jorge Batista was sendoff in the very first minute of their 1986 World Cup campaign in Mexico.

The resulting 10-man team was able to equalise after Shinji Kagawa scored a penalty but were unable to keep out a late goal by Yuya Osako in the 73rd minute.

The team will now go on to play without Sanchez, with either Wilmar Barrios or Mateus Uribe likely to take his place. Without Sanchez partnering with Abel Aguilar in defence, Los Cafeteros face an uphill task of having to beat Poland who, after having been beaten convincingly by Senegal, will be desperate to notch a win of their own.

This has been a World Cup filled with bookies’ favourites making early missteps. Brazil and Argentina drew in their first games against minor opponents and Argentina went one worse, being at the mercy of a 3-0 drubbing by Croatia. Current champions Germany also went down 1-0 to Mexico but were able to sneak in a win against Sweden with a goal deep into injury time.

The Colombians will be looking to replicate the German and Brazilian efforts to wrest back their chances to advance to the next round. Star striker Radamel Falcao for one will be looking to undo the memory of his first ever World Cup appearance by registering a win for Colombia. Colombia’s highest goalscorer said after the game against Japan that “[I]t’s them or us. Today we’re forced to win and we have to do everything we can to win.”

Colombia take on Poland today at 1pm. Colombian viewers can stream the game live on Canal RCN.