With just over two months until the kick-off for the World Cup in Brazil, The Bogotá Post’s football expert follows the Colombia team’s preparations for their comeback after a 16-year long wait.
Mounting excitement has been balanced by growing concerns over the health of key players, including of course the inimitable Radamel Falcao, Colombia’s main striker who suffered a knee ligament injury in January. Falcao however is not the only player in a race against the clock to recover in time for the World Cup: right back Zuñiga is just coming back from an injury that has kept him mysteriously out for six months. Health concerns are not the only issues at play: fading stars Torres, Armero and Yepes are currently not undisputed starters at their respective clubs.
Although these players are certainly a headache for Colombia’s coach, from day one of his appointment in 2012 Jose Pekerman made his mark on the Colombian squad, working with roughly the same players throughout the qualifying to build a strong team that proved to be more than just a promise; it finished second behind Argentina but ahead of Chile, Ecuador and Uruguay. To balance the doubts and the fading stars, Pekerman – who is Argentinian – can rely on a stream of other players that continue to be on top of their games. Waiting in the wings are:Jackson Martinez, Porto’s leading goal scorer, and Carlos Bacca, the latest scoring sensation in Sevilla. Santiago Arias is the regular right back at PSV Eindhoven, while Cristian Zapata, the central defender, is back from injury and ready to rejoin AC Milan’s regular team.
Overall Colombia’s World Cup preparations are on course and predictions of reaching the second round are realistic. After that, it’s down to the team’s form – as well as the luck of the draw – to see whether they can get further into the tournament.
In the coming issues we will bring you the low down on all of Colombia’s football hopefuls. Which players are going to bring the nation joy and happiness in June and, hopefully, July?
By Freek Huigen