FIFA’s May 13 deadline for the 30-player shortlists meant another big step for the 32 nations qualified for the World Cup in Brazil. It was an event that caused curiosity among media and fans but there was nothing shocking about the release of Colombia’s finest 30 players.
Manager Jose Pekerman kept faith in the squad that he used during the qualifying round in selecting his provisional squad for the World Cup. Falcao Garcia, Colombia’s star player, who is currently recovering from a knee injury but still maintains hopes of reaching the tournament, was one of the names present.
Now the Argentinian coach will have to narrow his group down to 23 before June 2 and El Tigre will have until that date to prove that he is fit enough to go to Brazil. The recuperation process has gone better than expected, but there are still no guarantees that he will be able to attend, as Falcao himself stated on his Twitter recently.
Pekerman’s roster was not, however entirely lacking in surprises. The least expected name on the list is Elkin Soto, from German side FSV Mainz 05. He has not been a regular part of the squad but Pekerman rewarded Soto for having had a good season at his club side.
Speculation has already started about the seven players that will be left disappointed on June 2. Carl Worswick, a British journalist specialising in Colombian football believes there will be few surprises when the final cut is made.
“Pekerman probably already knows the vast majority of his team, but there might be one or two positions where players like Alex Mejia and Juan Fernando Quintero might spy their chances.
“Defenders Aquivaldo Mosquera, Carlos Valdes and youngster Eder Balanta will also see this as an opportunity to shine considering Colombia’s much-publicized problems at the back”, states Worswick. The British journalist however believes other concerns will be top priority for Pekerman – namely the situation of key players Camilo Zuniga, Pablo Armero and Macnelly Torres. “All were a crucial part of Pekerman’s system during qualifying but have since struggled with either injuries or a lack of playing time. The next 20 days will give Pekerman a chance to run the rule over his options,” explains Worswick.
While 23 of these players will carry the emotions – and responsibilities – of representing Colombia’s first appearance in a World Cup in 16 years, the 7 players who miss out will have to experience the tournament in front of the television with friends and family as the rest of the country.
The Colombian World Cup Selection:
David Ospina (Nice, France),
Faryd Mondragón (Deportivo Cali)
Camilo Vargas (Independiente Santa Fe)
Camilo Zúñiga (Napoli, Italy)
Pablo Armero (West Ham United, England)
Cristian Zapata (AC Milan, Italy)
Mario Yepes (Atalanta bergamo, Italy)
Amaranto Perea (Cruz Azul, Mexico)
Carlos Valdés (San Lorenzo, Argentina)
Santiago Arias (PSV, the Netherlands)
Eder Álvarez Balanta (River Plate, Argentina)
Aquivaldo Mosquera (América, México)
James Rodríguez (Monaco, France)
Abel Aguilar (Toulouse, France)
Carlos Sánchez (Elche, Spain)
Fredy Guarín (Internazionale, Italy)
Juan Fernando Quintero (Porto, Portugal)
Aldo Ramírez (Morelia, Mexico)
Edwin Valencia (Fluminense, Brazil)
Macnelly Torres (Al Shabab, Saudi Arabia)
Alex Mejía (Atlético Nacional)
Víctor Ibarbo (Cagliari, Italy)
Elkín Soto (FSV Mainz 05, Germany)
Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (Fiorentina, Italy)
Jackson Martínez (Porto, Portugal),
Radamel Falcao (Monaco, France)
Teófilo Gutiérrez (River Plate, Argentina)
Luis Fernando Muriel (Udinese, Italy)
Carlos Bacca (Sevilla, Spain)
Adrián Ramos (Borussia Dortmund, Germany).
By Freek Huigen