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.
Shirt badge/Association crest
Nickname(s) Los Cafeteros (The Coffee growers)
Association Federación Colombiana de Fútbol (FCF)
Confederation CONMEBOL (South America)
Head coach José Pékerman
Captain James Rodríguez
Most caps Carlos Valderrama (111)
Top scorer Radamel Falcao & Arnoldo Iguarán (25)
Home stadium Estadio Metropolitano Roberto Meléndez[1]
First colours
Second colours
FIFA ranking
Current 7 Decrease 2 (5 November 2015)
Highest 3 (July–August 2013, September 2014–March 2015)
Lowest 54 (June 2011)
Elo ranking
Current 6 Steady (November 2015)
Highest 4 (July–October 2014, March–June 2015, September–October 2015)
Lowest 93 (August 1965)
First international
 Mexico 3–1 Colombia Colombia
(Panama City, Panama; 10 February 1938)
Biggest win
 Bahrain 0–6 Colombia Colombia
(Riffa, Bahrain; 26 March 2015)
Biggest defeat
 Brazil 9–0[2] 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
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 seventh in the FIFA World Rankings,[3] and sixth 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.[4][5]

Colombia had its strongest period during the 1990s. A 1993 match resulted in a 5–0 win over Argentina which began a special "mutual respect" rivalry between both nations.[6] The goalkeeper René Higuita achieved fame from his eccentric scorpion kick clearance against England at Wembley Stadium 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 América 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 four result in seven Copa Américas. 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.[7]

Colombia missed three World Cups between 2002 and 2010. During the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, however, Colombia showed improvement since the 2011 Copa América, bringing its rank within the top ten for the first time since 2002 and into the top five consistently for the first time since 2004. After a 16-year-long wait, Colombia finally returned to the World Cup.[7][8]

Former midfielder Marcos Coll is the only player in history to score a rare Olympic goal in a FIFA World Cup game, 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. Colombia's midfielder James Rodríguez was awarded the Golden Boot for most goals (6) and the Best Goal of the Tournament awards at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.


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).[9] 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.[10] 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.[11] 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 1990 World Cup, Colombia defeated United Arab Emirates 2–0, lost to Yugoslavia 1–0, and earned their place in the Round of 16 after a 1–1 draw with West Germany, who would later win the Cup. Colombia would be eliminated in their next match against Cameroon with a 2–1 defeat in extra time.

For the 1994 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. Colombia was assigned to the Group A with the hosts United States, Romania, and Switzerland. During the tournament, Colombia only earned one win and suffered two losses, which would eliminate it in the first phase.

Colombia ended their qualification for the 1998 World Cup in third place with 28 points, 2 points below Argentina who was in 1st place with 30 points. Colombia was assigned to the Group G with Tunisia, England, and Romania. Romania obtains a 1–0 victory in the first match. Colombia's second match was a 1–0 win against Tunisia, with a goal from Leider Preciado. However, in the last match England won the game 2–0, with which Colombia was eliminated.

Colombia won the its first Copa América in 2001.

The 2001 Copa América was the first Copa América held in Colombia. Prior to the tournament, meetings were held by CONMEBOL authorities who were concerned about potential security issues in Colombia, and the tournament was cancelled on July 1, just 10 days before the first game.[12] On July 6, CONMEBOL decided to reinstate the tournament, which was held on schedule. Canada had already disbanded its training camp and released its players, so Costa Rica (CONCACAF invitee) were invited to the tournament. Claiming that Argentine players had received death threats from terrorist groups, the Argentine Football Association decided to withdraw from the competition the day before the first game, with Honduras (CONCACAF invitee) hastily invited and flown in by the Colombian Air Force to participate.[12] There were no terrorist incidents within the competition. Colombia had a strong run through the tournament, winning their first Copa América title by beating Mexico (CONCACAF invitee) with a goal from Iván Córdoba in the second half.

Depression Era (2002–2010)[edit]

For the 2002 World Cup, Colombia only managed to place sixth in the qualification round, tied with Uruguay but failing to qualify due to goal difference. Colombia would also eventually fail to qualify for the 2006 edition in Germany and for the 2010 World Cup, mainly because their constant change of formations and struggles to score goals in the last games of the qualification.

A new golden generation (2010–present)[edit]

In 2011 Copa América, Colombia made a good run topping their group and achieving a draw to the host nation Argentina, who were the favorites. In the next round, Colombia would be eliminated in a 2–0 lost against Peru in the extra time.

"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 Martínez on the current generation and it's run into the 2014 FIFA World Cup.[13]

The Colombian side gained Leonel Álvarez as the new coach following the resignation of Hernán Darío Gómez, but was sacked after three games with disappointing results, which led in the hiring of José Pékerman. The Colombian squad would break a personal qualifying best record, and raise the FIFA ranking consistently into the top ten 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.[14][15][16][17] 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.[14][18]

2014 World Cup[edit]

Colombia topped off their return in the 2014 World Cup after a 16-year absence by defeating Greece 3–0.[19] Colombia then edged a 2–1 victory over Ivory Coast to dispute Group C's top spot days later.[20] 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.[21] 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. The Japan match also saw goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón, the last active player from the country's previous World Cup appearance in 1998, become the oldest player ever to appear in a World Cup final tournament. Colombia went on to defeat Uruguay 2–0 on 28 June 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.[22][23][24][25][26][27]

Despite the elimination, the national team was greeted by tens of thousands of Colombians in Bogotá, welcoming them back as heroes and restoring pride to the nation.[28][29] 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.[30][31]


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 Colombian 5–0 victory in 1993, beating host Argentina in the 1994 FIFA 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. Argentina come as a previous twice FIFA World Cup champion. It caused a huge upset and start of a respective rivalries. Unlike other rivalries full of hostility, the Colombian-Argentine rivalry is more based on 'respect' than a 'hated' relationship always attracting great interest between both nations.[32] Thus, the Colombian-Argentine rivalry has been considered "unique" and "special." In a way, the Colombian-Argentine relationship is viewed as "sparring partners" in world football.

Schedule and results[edit]

      Win       Draw       Loss




Current squad[edit]

The following players were called up for the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification matches against Chile on 12 November and Argentina on 17 November.
Caps and goals updated as November 17, 2015 after the match against Argentina.

0#0 Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club
1GK David Ospina (Vice-captain) (1988-08-31) 31 August 1988 (age 27) 62 0 England Arsenal
1GK Camilo Vargas (1989-03-09) 9 March 1989 (age 26) 4 0 Colombia Atlético Nacional
1GK Cristian Bonilla (1993-06-02) 2 June 1993 (age 22) 0 0 Colombia La Equidad
2DF Cristián Zapata Penalty Card Penalty Card (1986-09-30) 30 September 1986 (age 29) 39 0 Italy Milan
2DF Jeison Murillo Penalty Card (1992-05-27) 27 May 1992 (age 23) 15 1 Italy Internazionale
2DF Frank Fabra (1991-02-22) 22 February 1991 (age 24) 5 0 Colombia Independiente Medellín
2DF Johan Mojica (1992-08-21) 21 August 1992 (age 23) 2 1 Spain Valladolid
2DF Helibelton Palacios Penalty Card (1993-06-11) 11 June 1993 (age 22) 1 0 Colombia Deportivo Cali
2DF Francisco Meza (1991-08-29) 29 August 1991 (age 24) 0 0 Colombia Santa Fe
2DF Bernardo Espinosa (1989-07-11) 11 July 1989 (age 26) 0 0 Spain Sporting Gijón
3MF Fredy Guarín (Vice-captain) (1986-06-30) 30 June 1986 (age 29) 58 4 Italy Internazionale
3MF Macnelly Torres (1984-11-01) 1 November 1984 (age 31) 41 3 Colombia Atlético Nacional
3MF James Rodríguez (Captain) (1991-07-12) 12 July 1991 (age 24) 40 13 Spain Real Madrid
3MF Alexander Mejía Penalty Card (1988-11-07) 7 November 1988 (age 27) 24 0 Colombia Atlético Nacional
3MF Juan Fernando Quintero (1993-01-18) 18 January 1993 (age 22) 13 1 France Rennes
3MF Edwin Cardona (1992-12-08) 8 December 1992 (age 22) 12 2 Mexico Monterrey
3MF Carlos Carbonero (1990-07-25) 25 July 1990 (age 25) 5 0 Italy Sampdoria
3MF Daniel Torres Penalty Card (1989-11-15) 15 November 1989 (age 26) 2 0 Colombia Independiente Medellín
4FW Teófilo Gutiérrez Penalty Card (1985-05-17) 17 May 1985 (age 30) 47 15 Portugal Sporting CP
4FW Adrián Ramos (1986-01-22) 22 January 1986 (age 29) 36 4 Germany Borussia Dortmund
4FW Carlos Bacca (1986-09-08) 8 September 1986 (age 29) 25 8 Italy Milan
4FW Luis Fernando Muriel (1991-04-16) 16 April 1991 (age 24) 8 1 Italy Sampdoria
4FW Felipe Pardo (1990-08-17) 17 August 1990 (age 25) 1 0 Greece Olympiacos

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 Santiago Arias (1992-01-13) 13 January 1992 (age 23) 20 0 Netherlands PSV v.  Chile, 12 November 2015
DF Éder Álvarez Balanta (1993-02-28) 28 February 1993 (age 22) 6 0 Argentina River Plate v.  Uruguay, 13 October 2015
DF Pablo Armero (1986-11-02) 2 November 1986 (age 29) 66 2 Brazil Flamengo 2015 Copa América
DF Camilo Zúñiga (1985-12-14) 14 December 1985 (age 29) 62 1 Italy Napoli 2015 Copa América
DF Carlos Valdés (1985-05-22) 22 May 1985 (age 30) 17 2 Colombia Santa Fe 2015 Copa América
DF Pedro Franco (1991-04-23) 23 April 1991 (age 24) 5 0 Turkey Beşiktaş 2015 Copa América
DF Darwin Andrade (1991-02-11) 11 February 1991 (age 24) 3 0 Belgium Standard Liège 2015 Copa América
DF Stefan Medina (1992-06-14) 14 June 1992 (age 23) 3 0 Mexico Monterrey v.  Kuwait, 30 March 2015
DF Daniel Bocanegra (1987-04-23) 23 April 1987 (age 28) 3 0 Colombia Atlético Nacional v.  Kuwait, 30 March 2015
MF Carlos Sánchez (1986-02-06) 6 February 1986 (age 29) 62 0 England Aston Villa v.  Chile, 12 November 2015
MF Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (1988-05-26) 26 May 1988 (age 27) 47 5 Italy Juventus v.  Uruguay, 13 October 2015
MF Gustavo Cuellar (1992-10-14) 14 October 1992 (age 23) 1 0 Colombia Junior v.  Uruguay, 13 October 2015
MF Wílmar Barrios (1993-10-16) 16 October 1993 (age 22) 0 0 Colombia Deportes Tolima v.  Uruguay, 13 October 2015
MF Kevin Balanta (1997-04-28) 28 April 1997 (age 18) 1 0 Colombia Deportivo Cali v.  Peru, 8 September 2015
MF Andrés Felipe Roa (1993-05-25) 25 May 1993 (age 22) 1 0 Colombia Deportivo Cali v.  Peru, 8 September 2015
MF Edwin Valencia Injured (1985-03-29) 29 March 1985 (age 30) 19 0 Brazil Santos 2015 Copa América
MF Víctor Ibarbo (1990-05-19) 19 May 1990 (age 25) 15 1 England Watford 2015 Copa América
MF Abel Aguilar (1985-01-06) 6 January 1985 (age 30) 56 6 France Toulouse 2015 Copa América preliminary squad
FW Jackson Martínez Injured (1986-10-03) 3 October 1986 (age 29) 39 10 Spain Atlético Madrid v.  Chile, 12 November 2015
FW Radamel Falcao Injured (1986-02-10) 10 February 1986 (age 29) 63 25 England Chelsea v.  Uruguay, 13 October 2015
FW Fabián Castillo Penalty Card (1992-06-17) 17 June 1992 (age 23) 3 0 United States FC Dallas v.  Uruguay, 13 October 2015
FW Rafael Santos Borré (1995-09-15) 15 September 1995 (age 20) 0 0 Colombia Deportivo Cali v.  Uruguay, 13 October 2015
FW Andrés Rentería (1993-03-06) 6 March 1993 (age 22) 2 1 Mexico Santos Laguna 2015 Copa América preliminary squad

Individual records[edit]

  • Bold denotes players still playing international football.
As of 18 November 2015[33]