FCF president steps down, Once Caldas streak and Bogotá football will come from Santa Fe

By bogotapost November 16, 2015
La Liga Águila

Some of the main protagonists of the Liga Águila.

Bedoya steps down

Luis Bedoya cited ‘personal reasons’ as he resigned from his role as president of the Colombian Football Federation (FCF) on November 9. The Medellín-born 56-year-old has headed up the federation since 2006, through a resurgent time in Colombian football.

He has strongly denied allegations that he is linked to the corruption scandal that has embroiled FIFA and seen many high ranking officials stepping down or being charged for corruption.

He was a member of the South American Football Federation (CONMEBOL),  whose accountant resigned in October.

Crunch time in the Liga Águila

With only one set of matches to come in the league stage of the Liga Águila, Atlético Nacional, Once Caldas, Alianza Petrolera and Atlético Junior have already qualified for the quarter finals that will decide the eventual champion. Six teams are still in contention for the final four positions in the knock-out rounds.

The big question is who can stop Atlético Nacional from claiming their fifteenth title. ‘Los verdes’ from Medellín have overpowered the rest of the league throughout October with academy graduate Sebastian Pérez playing a starring role. The 22 year old central midfielder saw a transfer to Arsenal fall through in 2013 after a month’s trial and then has struggled to get into Nacional’s first team. In the second half of this season, though, he made his breakthrough, helping the side to a comfortable first place.

One of the contenders is Once Caldas. The Manizaleños are heading for the playoffs in surprisingly good form, having made a terrible start to the second season with a seven game wait for their first win. But a hard fought victory away against title favourites Atlético Nacional marked the turning point and a streak of nine games unbeaten at the end of the season sees them going into the playoffs in second place.

‘Los Blancos’ are managed by the explosive Javier Torrente, a former assistant of Europa League finalist Marcelo Bielsa, and he has formed a combative machine based on a strong and ruthless defence. Problem kid Johan Arango is their star man. The attacking midfielder is blessed with a fantastic technique and even better free kick, but also a fragile mentality. Multiple cases of disciplinary problems make him the joker for the quarter finals in which Once Caldas are looking for their fifth title.

Bogotá had four teams battling for the top eight, but will see very little football in the final stage of the season. Millonarios and Equidad have been eliminated, as they could not turn their bad early form around, so both sides will be able to take an early holiday. Deportes Tolima, who have been guesting in Bogotá this season while their ground undergoes refurbishment, are strongly fancied to qualify. But, for the rest of the season they will return to Ibagué, when their usual home stadium is ready after a seven month renovation.

The football we will see in Bogotá comes from Santa Fé. ‘Los cardenales’ feature in the Colombian Cup Final, the semifinal of the Copa Sudamericana and have a strong chance of qualifying for the top eight. Since July 12, the team has played 33 games, more than any other team in the world. Under manager Pelusso they have converted into a strong collective in which both starters and reserves have had an important role this season. All of this despite the long injury of Omar Pérez, the club’s captain and star man.
Santa Fé haven’t won anything yet, but with Pérez back and the finals coming up, next month will be the time to convert a so far brilliant season into silverware.

By Freek Huigen