Colombia national football team

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Colombia
Shirt badge/Association crest
Nickname(s) Los Cafeteros (The Coffee Growers)
Tricolor (Tricolour)
Association Federación Colombiana de Fútbol (FCF)
Confederation CONMEBOL (South America)
Head coach José Pékerman
Captain Mario Yepes
Most caps Carlos Valderrama (111)
Top scorer Arnoldo Iguarán (25)
Home stadium Estadio Metropolitano Roberto Meléndez[1]
FIFA code COL
FIFA ranking 4
Highest FIFA ranking 3 (July 2013, August 2013)
Lowest FIFA ranking 54 (June 2011)
Elo ranking 6
Highest Elo ranking 5 (January – February 1994)
Lowest Elo ranking 93 (August 1965)
First colours
Second colours
First international
 Mexico 3–1 Colombia Colombia
(Panama City, Panama; 10 February 1938)
Biggest win
 Argentina 0–5 Colombia Colombia
(Buenos Aires, Argentina; 5 September 1993)
Colombia Colombia 5–0 Uruguay 
(Barranquilla, Colombia; 6 June 2004)[2]
Colombia Colombia 5–0 Peru 
(Barranquilla, Colombia; 4 June 2005)[3]
Colombia Colombia 5–0 Bolivia 
(Barranquilla, Colombia; 22 March 2013)
Biggest defeat
 Brazil 9–0[4] Colombia Colombia
(Lima, Peru; 24 March 1957)
World Cup
Appearances 5 (First in 1962)
Best result Round of 16, 1990
Copa América
Appearances 18 (First in 1945)
Best result Winners, 2001
CONCACAF Gold Cup
Appearances 3 (First in 2000)
Best result Runners-up, 2000
Confederations Cup
Appearances 1 (First in 2003)
Best result 4th, 2003

The Colombia national football team represents Colombia in international football competitions and is controlled by the Colombian Football Federation. It is a member of the CONMEBOL. It is currently ranked 5th in the FIFA World Rankings,[5] and ranked 6th in Elo World Rankings.

Colombia has made noticeable moments throughout in their history. Former midfielder Marcos Coll is the only player in history to score an Olympic goal in a FIFA World Cup, where in the 1962 FIFA World Cup, he scored against the USSR football team. On another note, the match finished in a 4–4 tie after a spectacular coming back of Colombia from 4-0 to draw the match, making it also the biggest comeback in the history of a world cup. It is also noted that the USSR had Lev Yashin, (considered to be one of the greatest goalkeepers in the football history) in the starting lineup. Colombia had its strongest period during the 1990s where they were among the giants in world football. A match during this period in 1993 resulted in a 5–0 win over Argentina which caused a special 'mutual respect' rivalry between both nations.[6][7] The goalkeeper René Higuita achieved fame from his eccentric scorpion kick clearance against England at Wembley in 1995. At the 2001 Copa America, Óscar Córdoba became the first and only goal keeper in history to keep a perfect clean sheet in a Copa America. Other stars from Colombia's team included Carlos Valderrama and Faustino Asprilla. During this era Colombia qualified for the 1990, 1994, and 1998 editions of the World Cup, only reaching the second round in 1990.

Colombia suffered over three World Cup cycles between 2002 to 2010, failing to be as strong as it had been in the 1990s, and they did not qualify for the FIFA World Cup in this period. Following the death of Andrés Escobar after the 1994 World Cup, Colombia's golden generation had faded within the end of the decade and sent Colombia into a decade of disappointment and suffering.

However, in recent times during the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, Colombia has played with a new talented golden generation since the 2011 Copa America, bringing its current rank within the top 10 for the first time since 2002, nearly 10 years around the end of the previous golden era and into the top 5 consistently since 2004. After a 16-year long wait, Colombia finally returned after qualifying to the 2014 FIFA World Cup.[8][9]

Since the mid-1980s, the Colombian National team has been a stronghold fighting the negative stereotypes towards the country's reputation. This has also made the sport very popular and made the national team a sign of nationalism, pride, and passion for many Colombians world wide. Thus, Colombia is known for having a very passionate fan base in both national and international games world wide.[10]

They were the champions of the 2001 Copa América, which they hosted and set a new record of being undefeated, conceding no goals and winning each match. Prior to that success they were runners-up to Peru in the 1975 Copa América. In total, Colombia has gained a top 4 result in 7 Copa Americas. Colombia was the first team to win FIFA best mover in 1993 where the achievement was first introduced and the second team after Croatia to win it twice with the second being in 2012.[9] The team are nicknamed Los Cafeteros due to the coffee production in their country.

History[edit]

Fernando Paternoster was the first foreign manager of the Colombia national team. He was also the one to coach Colombia to its first international game.

Colombia played its first official matches at the 1938 Central American and Caribbean Games. The Colombia national football team was composed mostly by all the players of the Club Juventud Bogotana (now Millonarios FC).[11] Alfonso Novoa was the manager of Colombia until 23 February.

The first game was played on 10 February 1938 against Mexico. Colombia was defeated 1–3; Luis Argüelles, Luis de la Fuente and Horacio Casarín scored for Mexico, Marcos Mejía scored for Colombia. Colombia was able to obtain the bronze medal, with two wins and three losses. The same year Colombia played at the I Bolivarian Games in Bogotá, where they were 4th with one win and three losses. Fernando Paternoster was the manager of Colombia, being the first foreign manager of the team.

Colombia did not play again until 1945 when they participated for the first time at the South American Championship, where they were 5th. This time, Colombia was composed by players of Junior de Barranquilla, except for Antonio de la Hoz, who played for Sporting de Barranquilla, and Pedro Ricardo López, who played for Boca Juniors de Cali.[12] Roberto Meléndez was player and coach of Colombia throughout the tournament.

The first match of Colombia in the professional era was played on 6 April in the 1949 South American Championship, a 3–0 defeat against Paraguay. The Austrian coach Friedrich Donnenfeld was the manager of Colombia during the tournament. He had moved with his family to Colombia due to the Second World War, and Atlético Junior would be his first team as a coach.[13] As Junior was chosen to represent Colombia in the tournament, he became in the first European manager of the Colombia national team. However, the team repeated their losing streak since, as in the previous tournament, ended 8th with 2 draws and 5 losses, scoring 4 goals.

After a withdrew in 1938 and getting banned in 1954 (due to the controversial El Dorado era), Colombia participated for the first time in qualifying for the 1958 FIFA World Cup in Sweden. Their first match was on 16 June 1957 against Uruguay in Bogotá, that ended in a 1–1 draw. Colombia lost their next matches, leaving them at the bottom of the group.

Stamp commemorating the match played against Uruguay in the 1962 World Cup.

At the World Cup, Colombia lost their first match 2–1 against Uruguay. Luis Cubilla and Jorge Sasía scored for Uruguay at the 56th and 75th minute respectively, while Francisco Zuluaga scored a 19th minute penalty goal for Colombia. In the second match they got a 4–4 draw with the Soviet Union, champions of the 1960 European Nations' Cup. It should be noted that in this game, Colombia scored four goals against Soviet goalkeeper Lev Yashin, widely considered the best goalkeeper in football history. Also in that game, Marcos Coll scored the only olympic goal in World Cup history so far. Unfortunately, the Colombian campaign in 1962 ended with a 5–0 defeat against Yugoslavia, who end up in fourth place in the tournament.

At Italia '90, Colombia defeated United Arab Emirates 2–0, lost to Yugoslavia 1–0, and earned their place in the Round of Sixteen after a dramatic 1–1 draw with West Germany, which would later win the Cup.

During their Round of Sixteen match against Cameroon, the game went into extra time after a 0–0 draw. In an unfortunate moment, goalkeeper René Higuita failed to protect the ball 35 yards (32 m) from the goal line, enabling Cameroon striker Roger Milla to snatch it from him, and score Cameroon's decisive second goal. Milla struck twice, giving Cameroon a 2–0 lead in extra time. Colombia would score in the 115th minute, but were unable to get an equalizer.

For the 1994 FIFA World Cup, Colombia finished top of their qualifying group without having lost a match, which included a historic 5–0 win over Argentina in Buenos Aires. Expectations of the team were high, some even naming them as favourites to win the tournament. The match between Colombia and Romania was the first game for either side in the group phase. Romania took the lead in the 16th minute with their first attack of the match when Raducioiu took on three defenders before firing home a low shot. On the half-hour mark, Hagi made it 2–0 when he noticed Córdoba out of position and dipped a cross over his head into the net. Valencia pulled a goal back for the Colombians in the 43rd minute when he headed in a corner from Perez. In the second half, Raducioiu put the result beyond doubt with his second goal in the final few minutes.

The team went into their second group game against the United States knowing they had to win to have any chance of progressing. On the 35th minute Andrés Escobar attempted to cut out a cross but accidentally deflected the ball into his own net. Earnie Stewart took the US two goals in front after scoring in the 56th minute. Valencia scored a consolation goal for Colombia in the closing minutes of the match. They did win their final group match 2–0 over Switzerland, but it was not enough to help them progress. Tragically, Escobar died on 2 July 1994 as it is believed that his own goal, vs. the United States.

For the 1998 FIFA World Cup, Colombia began their qualification rounds in South America well and ended in third place with 28 points, 2 points below Argentina who was in 1st place with 30 points. They ended in Group G with Tunisia, England, and Romania.

In their opening match, Adrian Ilie of Valencia CF gave Romania a 1–0 victory over Colombia after he placed a magnificent chip shot in the 44th minute from some 15 yards (14 m) that sailed over goalkeeper Farid Mondragón into the net. Colombia's second match was against Tunisia. Colombia's Leider Preciado struck seven minutes from the end to give a 1–0 win. Although England needed only a draw to guarantee a place in the Final 16, Darren Anderton drove home a fiercely struck angled drive in the 20th minute. David Beckham curled in a 30-yard (27 m) free kick nine minutes later and England won the game 2–0. Colombia was thus eliminated.

Colombia won the 2001 edition of the Copa America while setting a historical new record.
The Colombian team playing a friendly match against England in East Rutherford, New Jersey, United States (2005)

Colombia's exit at France '98 marked the end of an era, as many expected, but one last moment of glory came at Copa América 2001. The Copa América in 2001 was held in Colombia, from 11 to 29 July. It was organised by CONMEBOL, South America's football governing body. Prior to the tournament, three meetings were held by CONMEBOL authorities who were concerned about potential security issues in Colombia, for what Venezuela offered to host the competition. At the last minute, CONMEBOL decided to return the organization to Colombia, and the tournament was held on schedule. Complaining for the sudden decision, and claiming that Argentine players had received death threats from terrorist groups, the Argentine Football Association decided to withdraw from the competition. Because Canada and Argentina withdrew, on 6 and 10 July respectively, Honduras and Costa Rica were invited. There were no terrorist incidents within the competition. Colombia was placed in Group A with Venezuela, Chile, and Ecuador, and they finished on top of the group with nine points.

Hosts Colombia won their first Copa América title by beating Mexico in Bogotá. Their captain Iván Córdoba scored the decisive goal early in the second half with a header from a free kick. It was a fairytale success for Colombia after the decision to go ahead with the tournament after it had initially been cancelled. Even the fact that Argentina, regarded by most observers as the strongest side in the region, elected not to take part and that most countries fielded weakened teams failed to dampen the celebrations in Bogotá. It was also noted the following year that Brazil was then considered to be the strongest in the region at the time following their 2002 FIFA World Cup victory thus making the event 'legit'. This is also credited to the fact that Argentina failed to make it out of the group stage at the 2002 World Cup.

For Korea/Japan 2002, hopes were high for Colombia, but a weak attack and internal turmoil crushed their hopes. Colombia only managed to place sixth in the qualification round. Uruguay and Colombia had both 27 points but due to goal difference, Uruguay advanced to the play-offs with Australia.

Colombia failed to qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, mainly because their constant change of formations and struggles to score goals in the last games of the qualification. They played an Exhibition Match against South Africa a month before the World Cup started, which they lost 2–1. The game was the first soccer match played in the recently built Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa. All three goals of the match were scored by penalty kicks, and the match was highly criticized because both of the South Africa penalty kicks did not seem to be fouls at all, and because of the reported partiality of the referee towards the South Africa team. Another Exhibition Match was played in England against Nigeria, a match that ended in a 1–1 draw. Both matches were the first ones that coach Hernán Darío Gómez directed after his designation and return to Colombia's coaching. With a 2–0 win over Venezuela, and a 1–0 win against Ecuador, they wanted success over USA (which ended 0–0). In between all that they lost to Mexico 1–0. Los Cafeteros tied with Peru 1–1 but loss in an action packed duel against champions Spain 1–0. They successfully defeated Ecuador again 2–0 but suffered a 2–0 defeat to Chile in March even after many goal attempts. Colombia had beaten Hounduras 2–0 after two spectacular goals from Teo, although many fans complain games such as this one aren't testing their full potential. In Ft. Lauderdale, Colombia beat Jamaica 2–0 with Jackson Martinez and Teo scoring to test Leonel Álvarez's side as a coach.

In Copa América 2011, Colombia showed great skill beating Costa Rica 1–0 goal given by Adrian Ramos thanks to an assist by Fredy Guarin. Colombia with an epic match against Argentina dominating the game almost entirely although suffered by their weakness in goal scoring thus ending 0–0. Finally, they crushed Bolivia 2–0 both goals by Radamel Falcao one by penalty. This resulted in shocking the host nation Argentina, who were favorites to win the group. After that they confronted Peru with high expectations. Before extra time, Falcao was given a penalty only to miss by a wide shot and forcing into extra time. Colombia lost 2–0 after a mistake by defense as Mario Yepes had accidentally tripped goal keeper Neco Martínez who conceded no goals up to this point allowing Peruvian player Carlos Lobatón a clear shot. Martinez later had mistakenly kicked the ball to Juan Manuel Vargas who sealed the victory for Peru.

The Estadio Metropolitano, Barranquilla before a match between Colombia and Chile, game that would end in a 3–3 draw.

The Colombian side started very well in their FIFA World Cup 2014 qualifications by beating Bolivia 2–1 in La Paz and a difficult match versus Venezuela that ended 1–1 in Barranquilla, Colombia. Colombia then lost to Argentina 1–2 after losing both star players Falcao and Guarin due to injuries. Colombia's manager Leonel Álvarez was sacked after the loss, after being on the job for barely 3 months. Colombian legend Carlos Valderrama criticized the Colombian soccer federation for firing Álvarez prematurely.[14] By the beginning of 2012, José Pékerman became the new coach of the national team.[15] In early 2012, Colombia showed great skill defeating 2011 Golden Cup winners Mexico 2–0 in what was Pékerman's first friendly where he took control of the game almost entirely.

However Pékerman then experimented with a new system, barely granting Colombia a 1–0 over Peru and then leading to a shocking 0–1 loss to Ecuador, sending Colombia out of the qualifying range. However, Colombia bounced back with a shocking win, crushing Copa America winners Uruguay 4–0, ending their undefeated streak since the 2010 World Cup. Some commentators believed Barranquilla's heat was the cause of such a big win. though Los Cafeteros though once again showed their skill by beating Chile from a goal down 1–3 in another shock, this time in an away victory. Colombia won a comfortable 2–0 home victory against Paraguay during the qualifiers, ending the first half of the CONMEBOL qualification. A few days later, Pékerman removed some of their star players for a friendly experiment with Cameroon winning another home victory in a 3–0 result. In an epic duel with 2014 World Cup hosts Brazil, Colombia scored first in a game that ended 1–1.

For their first match of 2013, Pékerman had another successful experiment in a 4–1 win against Guatemala using most of his subs before allowing the normal starters to play. Continuing the 2nd half the CONMEBOL qualifiers, Colombia enjoyed a comfortable 5–0 win over Bolivia.[16] However, Colombia suffered days later in a shocking 1–0 loss to Venezuela at an away game, where head coach Jose Pékerman proposed a different formation (4–4–1–1).[17] In the match against South American leaders Argentina, Colombia played a very controversial match, where both teams were red carded a player in the first half, and 8 yellow cards were called, leading to a difficult goalless draw.[18] Days later, Colombia dominated Peru in a 2–0 victory. In the next round, Colombia managed to defeat Ecuador at home 1-0, but lost to Uruguay days later 2-0, in a game where at least a draw would have qualified them into the world cup. Colombia then had yet another successful friendly experiment against Serbia, managing to win 1-0 with a late goal.

In the following match against Chile on 11 October, Colombia shockingly gave up 3 goals in the first 30 minutes, but came back with 3 goals of their own after Jose Pekerman made crucial sub changes into the second half. That eventually influenced a Chilean red card within the next 15 minutes as well, thus allowing them to tie the game and qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 16 years.[19][20] Days later, Colombia topped off their qualification against Paraguay, where they gave up an early goal to Paraguay and then had a man sent off with a red card, but got two goals from their longtime captain Yepes to win the game 2-1 and finish second in the group with 30 points.[21] Colombia then ended 2013 with a 0-2 victory over Belgium and a 0-0 draw against the Netherlands.

Colombia started 2014 off in a 1-1 experiment against Tunisia, making it the first match without the currently injured Radamel Falcao where 1st choice keeper David Ospina made a mistake with Tunisia's goal.[22]

Schedule and results[edit]

Date Location Opponent Score Competition Colombia scorers
6 February 2013 Miami, United States  Guatemala 4–1 F Martínez Goal 23' Goal 33' Aguilar Goal 56' Muriel Goal 81'
22 March 2013 Barranquilla, Colombia  Bolivia 5–0 WCQ Torres Goal 20' Valdés Goal 50' Gutiérrez Goal 62' Falcao Goal 86' Armero Goal 90'+3'
26 March 2013 Ciudad Guayana, Venezuela  Venezuela 0–1 WCQ
7 June 2013 Buenos Aires, Argentina  Argentina 0–0 WCQ
11 June 2013 Barranquilla, Colombia  Peru 2–0 WCQ Falcao Goal 13' Gutiérrez Goal 45'
14 August 2013 Barcelona, Spain  Serbia 1–0 F Guarín Goal 87'
6 September 2013 Barranquilla, Colombia  Ecuador 1–0 WCQ J. Rodríguez Goal 31'
10 September 2013 Montevideo, Uruguay  Uruguay 0–2 WCQ
11 October 2013 Barranquilla, Colombia  Chile 3–3 WCQ Gutiérrez Goal 69' Falcao Goal 75' (pen.) Goal 84' (pen.)
15 October 2013 Asunción, Paraguay  Paraguay 2–1 WCQ Yepes Goal 38' Goal 56'
14 November 2013 Brussels, Belgium  Belgium 2–0 F Falcao Goal 51' Ibarbo Goal 66'
19 November 2013 Amsterdam, Netherlands  Netherlands 0–0 F
5 March 2014 Barcelona, Spain  Tunisia 1–1 F J. Rodríguez Goal 20' (pen.)
14 June 2014 Belo Horizonte, Brazil  Greece WC
19 June 2014 Brasília, Brazil  Ivory Coast WC
24 June 2014 Cuiabá, Brazil  Japan WC

KEY: F = Friendly WCQ = World Cup Qualifiers WC = World Cup

Rivalries[edit]

With political issues with history/culture related nations Ecuador and Venezuela, Colombia has always taken interest. While Colombia has natural rival matches with neighbors Ecuador and Venezuela, the matches aren't as popular as the rival matches against Argentina.

The historical victory for Colombia in 1993 beating host Argentina in the 1993 World Cup qualifiers was the very first time Argentina lost in its home stadium Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti during a qualifying match for a world cup. An impressive 5–0 victory, many figures such as Diego Maradona expected Argentina to 'crush' Colombia entirely. Especially when Argentina were previous 2 time FIFA World Cup winners. Thus, it caused a huge upset and start of a respective rivalries. Unlike other rivalries full of hostility, the Colombian-Argentinean rivalry is more based on 'respect' than a 'hated' relationship always attracting great interest between both nations, evidenced by the applauding Argentinean crowd after Colombia's 5–0 victory proving the respect for Colombia.[23] Thus the Colombian-Argentinean rivalry has been considered 'unique' and 'special'. In a way, the Colombian-Argentinean relationship is viewed as 'sparring partners' in world football.

Players[edit]

Current squad[edit]

The following 26 players were called for the friendly matches against Tunisia on 5 March 2014.[24]

Caps and goals updated as 5 March 2014.

0#0 Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club
1GK Faryd Mondragón (1971-06-21) 21 June 1971 (age 42) 54 0 Colombia Deportivo Cali
1GK David Ospina (1988-08-31) 31 August 1988 (age 25) 42 0 France Nice
1GK Camilo Vargas (1989-09-01) 1 September 1989 (age 24) 0 0 Colombia Santa Fe
2DF Mario Yepes (1976-01-13) 13 January 1976 (age 38) 95 6 Italy Atalanta
2DF Luis Amaranto Perea (1979-01-30) 30 January 1979 (age 35) 75 0 Mexico Cruz Azul
2DF Pablo Armero (1986-11-02) 2 November 1986 (age 27) 50 1 England West Ham United
2DF Cristián Zapata (1986-09-30) 30 September 1986 (age 27) 20 0 Italy Milan
2DF Santiago Arias (1992-01-13) 13 January 1992 (age 22) 4 0 Netherlands PSV
2DF Éder Álvarez Balanta (1993-02-28) 28 February 1993 (age 21) 1 0 Argentina River Plate
3MF Fredy Guarín (1986-06-30) 30 June 1986 (age 27) 48 3 Italy Internazionale
3MF Abel Aguilar (1985-01-06) 6 January 1985 (age 29) 47 6 France Toulouse
3MF Carlos Sánchez (1986-02-06) 6 February 1986 (age 28) 43 0 Spain Elche
3MF Macnelly Torres (1984-11-01) 1 November 1984 (age 29) 39 3 Saudi Arabia Al-Shabab
3MF Aldo Leão Ramírez (1981-04-18) 18 April 1981 (age 32) 29 1 Mexico Morelia
3MF Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (1988-05-26) 26 May 1988 (age 25) 26 3 Italy Fiorentina
3MF James Rodríguez (1991-07-12) 12 July 1991 (age 22) 21 4 Monaco Monaco
3MF Edwin Valencia (1985-03-29) 29 March 1985 (age 29) 12 0 Brazil Fluminense
3MF Alexander Mejía (1988-09-07) 7 September 1988 (age 25) 8 0 Colombia Atlético Nacional
3MF Víctor Ibarbo (1990-05-19) 19 May 1990 (age 23) 7 1 Italy Cagliari
3MF Juan Fernando Quintero (1993-01-18) 18 January 1993 (age 21) 3 0 Portugal Porto
4FW Teófilo Gutiérrez (1985-05-28) 28 May 1985 (age 28) 28 11 Argentina River Plate
4FW Jackson Martínez (1986-10-03) 3 October 1986 (age 27) 26 8 Portugal Porto
4FW Adrián Ramos (1986-01-22) 22 January 1986 (age 28) 23 2 Germany Hertha Berlin
4FW Carlos Bacca (1986-09-08) 8 September 1986 (age 27) 9 2 Spain Sevilla
4FW Luis Muriel (1991-04-18) 18 April 1991 (age 22) 5 1 Italy Udinese

Recent call-ups[edit]

The following players have been recently called up in the last 12 months.

Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club Latest call-up
DF Carlos Valdés (1985-05-22) 22 May 1985 (age 28) 12 2 Argentina San Lorenzo v.  Netherlands; 19 November 2013 (Friendly)
DF Aquivaldo Mosquera (1981-06-22) 22 June 1981 (age 32) 30 1 Mexico América v.  Paraguay; 15 October 2013 (WCQ)
DF Juan Camilo Zúñiga (1985-12-14) 14 December 1985 (age 28) 51 1 Italy Napoli v.  Uruguay; 10 September 2013 (WCQ)
MF Elkin Soto (1980-08-04) 4 August 1980 (age 33) 25 6 Germany Mainz 05 v.  Paraguay; 15 October 2013 (WCQ)
MF Carlos Darwin Quintero (1987-09-19) 19 September 1987 (age 26) 13 3 Mexico Santos Laguna v.  Paraguay; 15 October 2013 (WCQ)
FW Radamel Falcao (1986-02-10) 10 February 1986 (age 28) 51 20 Monaco Monaco v.  Netherlands; 19 November 2013 (Friendly)

Individual records[edit]

  Still active players are highlighted