Colombia national football team

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This article is about the men's team. For the women's team, see Colombia women's national football team.
Colombia
Shirt badge/Association crest
Nickname(s) Los Cafeteros (The Coffeers)
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 Increase 4 (17 July 2014)
Highest FIFA ranking 3 (July 2013, August 2013)
Lowest FIFA ranking 54 (June 2011)
Elo ranking 4 (9 July 2014)
Highest Elo ranking 4 (July 2014)
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 Quarter-finals, 2014
Copa América
Appearances 19 (First in 1945)
Best result Champions, 2001
CONCACAF Gold Cup
Appearances 3 (First in 2000)
Best result Runners-up, 2000
Confederations Cup
Appearances 1 (First in 2003)
Best result Fourth Place, 2003

The Colombia national football team represents Colombia in international football competitions and is overseen by the Colombian Football Federation. It is a member of the CONMEBOL and is currently ranked 4th both in the FIFA World Rankings,[5] and in Elo World Rankings.

Since the mid-1980s, the national team has been a symbol fighting the country's negative reputation. This has made the sport popular and made the national team a sign of nationalism, pride, and passion for many Colombians worldwide. Colombia is known for having a passionate fanbase.[6][7]

Colombia had its strongest period during the 1990s. A 1993 match resulted in a 5–0 win over Argentina which caused a special 'mutual respect' rivalry between both nations.[8][9] The goalkeeper René Higuita achieved fame from his eccentric scorpion kick clearance against England at Wembley in 1995. Stars from Colombia's team included Carlos Valderrama and Faustino Asprilla. During this era Colombia qualified for the 1990, 1994, and 1998 World Cups, only reaching the second round in 1990. Following the death of Andrés Escobar after the 1994 World Cup, Colombia's team faded in the latter half of the 1990s. They were the champions of the 2001 Copa América, which they hosted and set a new Copa America record of 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 in 2012.[10]

Colombia missed 3 World Cups between 2002-2010. However, during the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, Colombia showed improvement since the 2011 Copa America, bringing its rank within the top 10 for the first time since 2002 and into the top 5 consistently for the first time since 2004. After a 16-year long wait, Colombia finally returned to the 2014 FIFA World Cup.[11][10]

Former midfielder Marcos Coll is the only player in history to score an Olympic goal in a FIFA World Cup, in the 1962 FIFA World Cup against the USSR. The match finished in a 4–4 tie after a spectacular come back by Colombia from 4–1 to draw the match, making it the biggest comeback in World Cup history. The team are nicknamed Los Cafeteros due to the coffee production in their country.

History[edit]

Early Years[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).[12] 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.[13] 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.[14] 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 withdrawal 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 1962 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.

1990s Golden Era[edit]

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.

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.

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.

Depression Era (2002-2010)[edit]

The Colombian team playing a friendly match against England in East Rutherford, New Jersey, United States (2005)

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 would also eventually fail to qualify for the 2006 edition in Germany as well. 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.

A New Golden Generation (2010-Present)[edit]

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

In Copa América 2011, Colombia made a good run topping their group and shocking the host nation Argentina, who were the favorites. 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.

"We can’t stop people talking about us, nor should we duck away from positive opinions. This national squad, with a new generation of players, is making history. Nowadays nearly all of us are playing in Europe and I think we’ve got a wider variety of players and talent than we did at the 1994 World Cup, when this pressure was on them too. But we can’t afford to get too carried away with what people say. Of course we want to have a great tournament, but we mustn’t let ourselves get weighed down by external pressures."

Jackson Martinez on the current generation and it's run into the 2014 FIFA World Cup.[15]

The Colombian side gained Leonel Álvarez as the new coach following the resignation of Hernán Darío Gómez, but was sacked after 3 games with disappointing results, which led in the hiring of Argentina's José Pékerman. With an impressive world cup cycle campaign, this Colombian squad would break a personal qualifying best record, and raise the FIFA ranking consistently into the top 10 and allowed them to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 16 years. Celebrations broke throughout the nation, as many neturals hailed Colombia as a dark-horse towards being a world cup contender.[16][17][18][19][20] Often, Colombia were noted by many figures in Colombia such as Carlos Valderrama as a team that could become the most successful Colombian squad in history.[21][22]

2014 World Cup[edit]

Colombia topped off their return in the 2014 World Cup after a 16 year absence by defeating Greece 3-0.[23] Colombia then edged a 2-1 victory over Ivory Coast to dispute Group C's top spot days later.[24] On the same day, Japan and Greece drew 0-0 and automatically qualified Colombia to the round of 16 for the first time in 24 years since the 1990 edition of the world cup.[25] In its final group stage game, Colombia defeated Japan 4–1, to win Group C and become the third South American team (following Brazil and Argentina) to go 3–0 in group stage in World Cup history. Colombia went on to defeat Uruguay 2-0 on June 28, 2014 in the knockout round, securing a spot in the quarter finals for the first time in their history. Colombia fell to the host country Brazil 2–1 in the quarter final round in controversy, where media and figures such as Diego Maradona criticized FIFA and Carlos Velasco Carballo for 'favoring' Brazil and being biased in disallowing a goal from Mario Yepes and allowing too many fouls by the Brazilians to occur without any yellow cards being shown.[26][27][28][29][30][31]

Despite the elimination, the national team was greeted by tens of thousands of Colombians in Bogotá Colombia, welcoming them back as heroes and restoring pride to the nation. [32][33] Colombia would then receive the FIFA Fair Play Trophy and have James Rodríguez and Juan Cuadrado end as the World Cup's leading goal scorer and assist leader respectively.[34][35]

Schedule and results[edit]

      Win       Draw       Loss

2013[edit]

2014[edit]

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.[36] 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 23 players were named for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.[37][38]
Caps and goals updated as July 4, 2014 after the match against Brazil.

0#0 Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club
1 1GK David Ospina (1988-08-31) August 31, 1988 (age 25) 48 0 England Arsenal
12 1GK Camilo Vargas (1989-09-01) September 1, 1989 (age 24) 0 0 Colombia Santa Fe
22 1GK Faryd Mondragón (1971-06-21) June 21, 1971 (age 43) 56 0 Retired
2 2DF Cristián Zapata (1986-09-30) September 30, 1986 (age 27) 26 0 Italy Milan
3 2DF Mario Yepes (captain) (1976-01-13) January 13, 1976 (age 38) 102 6 Italy Sampdoria
4 2DF Santiago Arias (1992-01-13) January 13, 1992 (age 22) 9 0 Netherlands PSV
7 2DF Pablo Armero (1986-11-02) November 2, 1986 (age 27) 57 2 Italy Udinese
16 2DF Éder Álvarez Balanta (1993-02-28) February 28, 1993 (age 21) 4 0 Spain Valencia
18 2DF Juan Camilo Zúñiga (1985-12-14) December 14, 1985 (age 28) 57 1 Italy Napoli
23 2DF Carlos Valdés (1985-05-22) May 22, 1985 (age 29) 15 2 United States Philadelphia Union
5 3MF Carlos Carbonero (1990-07-25) July 25, 1990 (age 24) 2 0 Argentina River Plate
6 3MF Carlos Sánchez (1986-02-06) February 6, 1986 (age 28) 49 0 Spain Elche
8 3MF Abel Aguilar (1985-01-06) January 6, 1985 (age 29) 52 6 France Toulouse
10 3MF James Rodríguez (1991-07-12) July 12, 1991 (age 23) 27 11 Spain Real Madrid
11 3MF Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (1988-05-26) May 26, 1988 (age 26) 33 5 Italy Fiorentina
13 3MF Fredy Guarín (1986-06-30) June 30, 1986 (age 28) 52 4 Italy Internazionale
14 3MF Víctor Ibarbo (1990-05-19) May 19, 1990 (age 24) 12 1 Italy Cagliari
15 3MF Alexander Mejía (1988-09-07) September 7, 1988 (age 25) 13 0 Colombia Atlético Nacional
20 3MF Juan Fernando Quintero (1993-01-18) January 18, 1993 (age 21) 7 1 Portugal Porto
9 4FW Teófilo Gutiérrez (1985-05-28) May 28, 1985 (age 29) 34 13 Argentina River Plate
17 4FW Carlos Bacca (1986-09-08) September 8, 1986 (age 27) 12 3 Spain Sevilla
19 4FW Adrián Ramos (1986-01-22) January 22, 1986 (age 28) 28 2 Germany Borussia Dortmund
21 4FW Jackson Martínez (1986-10-03) October 3, 1986 (age 27) 30 10 Portugal Porto

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 Luis Amaranto Perea (1979-01-30) January 30, 1979 (age 35) 76 0 Mexico Cruz Azul 2014 FIFA World Cup provisional squad
DF Aquivaldo Mosquera (1981-06-22) June 22, 1981 (age 33) 30 1 Mexico Pachuca 2014 FIFA World Cup provisional squad
DF Stefan Medina (1992-06-14) June 14, 1992 (age 22) 2 0 Mexico Monterrey v.  Tunisia; March 5, 2014 (Friendly)
MF Aldo Leão Ramírez (1981-04-18) April 18, 1981 (age 33) 29 1 Mexico Atlas 2014 FIFA World Cup
MF Macnelly Torres (1984-09-01) September 1, 1984 (age 29) 37 3 Saudi Arabia Al-Shabab 2014 FIFA World Cup provisional squad
MF Elkin Soto (1980-08-04) August 4, 1980 (age 33) 16 6 Germany Mainz 05 2014 FIFA World Cup provisional squad
MF Edwin Valencia (1985-03-29) March 29, 1985 (age 29) 12 0 Brazil Fluminense 2014 FIFA World Cup provisional squad
MF Carlos Darwin Quintero (1987-09-19) September 19, 1987 (age 26) 14 1 Mexico Santos Laguna v.  Paraguay; October 15, 2013 (WCQ)
FW Radamel Falcao (1986-02-10) February 10, 1986 (age 28) 51 20 Monaco Monaco 2014 FIFA World Cup provisional squad
FW Luis Muriel (1991-04-18) April 18, 1991 (age 23) 5 1 Italy Udinese 2014 FIFA World Cup provisional squad

Individual records[edit]

  Still active players are highlighted
As of 4 July 2014[39]