Reinaldo Rueda appointed new Colombia manager

By Freek Huigen January 14, 2021

Reinaldo Rueda has been announced as the new head coach of the Colombian national team. 

Reinaldo Rueda is appointed to take Colombia to Qatar.
Reinaldo Rueda is appointed to take Colombia to Qatar. Photo: FCF Colombia.

The Colombian football federation confirmed today that Reinaldo Rueda will be the new manager of ‘los cafeteros’, Colombia’s national football team. The Cali-born manager’s contract runs from now until after the World Cup 2022 in Qatar. He takes over the seat from Carlos Queiroz, who was pushed out after the embarrassing 6-1 defeat in Ecuador and 3-0 at home defeat against Uruguay last November. 

Rueda’s name has been circling around the prestigious job for weeks, but he was still in charge of the Chilean national team. Once he’d reached an agreement to end his contract with the Chilean federation, though, there was nothing stopping him from coming back to Colombia to sign a deal. 

Related: Atlético Nacional takes Copa Libertadores crown

It will be his second spell in charge of the national team for the 63-year-old manager. He just missed out on the World Cup 2006, having taken over the team from the legendary Pacho Maturana. However, the team – who were bottom of the table when he took the helm – didn’t qualify.

This time, the outlook for World Cup qualification is better than 15 years ago. Currently, sitting in seventh place, ‘la selección’ don’t yet have tickets for Qatar. But with only 2 points fewer than Paraguay, who are sitting in the safe fourth position, Reinaldo Rueda will have every chance to turn it around. 

Rueda began his career with Colombia’s U20s

Rueda, who was never a professional football player, started his managerial career in charge of Colombia’s under-20 team. After unsuccessful spells at Cortuluá, Deportivo Cali and Independiente Medellín he returned to Colombia’s youth setup where he made a name for himself, reaching the final of the prestigious Toulon tournament twice.  

He got promoted to the national team in 2004 where he had an acceptable if unremarkable spell. But it was in the coming years that he would really come to fame. He took tiny Honduras to the World Cup in 2010 – their second-ever World Cup after 1982. He repeated that feat in 2014 with Ecuador before he took over Atlético Nacional in 2015. 

2016 was a year of massive ups and an even bigger down for Rueda and Nacional. Nacional had already been very dominant in the domestic league in the years before Rueda signed. But with Rueda in charge, they had their most successful year since the 80s, and arguably in history. Nacional won the biggest South American club prize, the Copa Libertadores and reached the final of the Copa Sudamericana. That final never happened after the infamous Chapecoense plane crash in the hills of Antioquia. The tragedy overshadowed what had been an extremely successful year. 

In 2017, after winning his second league title with Nacional, Rueda left Colombia. Now, after spells with Flamengo and the Chilean national team, he is back in Colombia for a second chance of reaching the World Cup with his country. 

Can he bring joy to the nation and take Colombia to their third World Cup qualification in a row?