Manager Carlos Queiroz announced the 23-man Colombia squad for the Copa América in Brazil next month – including James Rodríguez in spite of concerns about his fitness.
James Rodríguez and Radamel Falcao are the biggest names in the Colombia squad for the Copa América, Carlos Queiroz’s first tournament with los cafeteros. Fitness problems meant that James – Colombia’s star player – was only able to play a full 90 minute match three times with Bayern Munich last season. But those problems have not stopped the 27-year old star being included in the final 23 for the Copa América.
James’s youth friend Juan Fernando Quintero is not available due to a serious knee injury, marking the return of playmaker Edwin Cardona, who hasn’t been a regular in the national team since his racist gesture versus South Korea in October 2017. Cardona had a great season at Pachuca in Mexico and was named in the league’s team of the season.
The squad, who will face Argentina, Paraguay and invited country Qatar, are expecting the goals to come from Radamel Falcao. Colombia’s all-time top national team goalscorer with 33 goals will have strong competition from 28-year-old striker Duván Zapata. Zapata had a fantastic season in Atalanta Bergamo, becoming the second top goalscorer in Italy and securing the club’s first ever Champions League spot.
Despite his father’s fragile health, goalkeeper David Ospina will be travelling to Brazil and is expected to be number one in goal for Colombia. Champions League finalist Dávinson Sánchez will join the team later as he has got an important appointment first: playing the Champions League final with Tottenham Hotspur this Saturday.
From the Colombian league, three players made the final 23. As expected, Deportivo Cali goalkeeper Camilo Vargas and Deportes Tolima goalkeeper Álvaro Montero are the back-ups for Ospina. 22-year-old Junior de Barranquilla winger Luis Díaz is the only outfield player from the domestic league.
The surprise call-up is young and upcoming centre back John Lucumí, who won the title in the Belgian league with Racing Genk. Stefan Medina wasn’t named in the provision squad, but replaced an injured Luis Manuel Orejuela and earned his spot after a good season in Mexico.
Barcelona centre back Jeison Murillo didn’t make it into the squad. He barely played in Spain and that cost him his place, while Carlos Bacca hasn’t had his best year and his previous record in the national team didn’t favour him either.
In preparation for the Copa América Colombia will first play a friendly against Panama in Bogotá’s El Campín stadium at 5pm on June 3. Find tickets here if you want to attend their final game in Colombia before the Copa starts. The national team will continue with another friendly against Peru in Lima on June 6 at 4pm Colombian time.
Copa América 2019 schedule (Colombian time)
Colombia vs Argentina Salvador June 15 5pm
Colombia vs Qatar Sao Paulo June 19 4.30pm
Colombia vs Paraguay Salvador June 23 2pm
23-player Colombia squad
David Ospina – Napoli (Ita)
Álvaro Montero – Deportes Tolima (Col)
Camilo Vargas – Deportivo Cali (Col)
Dávinson Sánchez – Tottenham Hotspurs (Eng)
Yerry Mina – Everton (Eng)
Cristian Borja – Sporting Lisbon (Por)
Santiago Arias – Atlético Madrid (Spa)
Cristian Zapata – AC Milan (Ita)
William Tesillo – León (Mex)
John Lucumí – Racing Genk (Bel)
Stefan Medina – Monterrey (Mex)
Gustavo Cuéllar – Flamengo (Bra)
Mateus Uribe – América (Mex)
Wílmar Barrios – Zenit St Petersburg (Rus)
Jéfferson Lerma – Bournemouth (Eng)
James Rodríguez – Bayern Munich (Ger)
Edwin Cardona – Pachuca (Mex)
Juan Guillermo Cuadrado – Juventus (Ita)
Radamel Falcao – AS Monaco (Fra)
Luis Muriel – Fiorentina (Ita)
Duván Zapata – Atalanta Bergamo (Ita)
Luis Díaz – Junior de Barranquilla (Col)
Roger Mártinez – América (Mex)