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) La Tricolor (The Tricolors)
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 5 Increase 2 (6 April 2017)
Highest 3 (July–August 2013, September 2014 – March 2015, June–August 2016)
Lowest 54 (June 2011)
Elo ranking
Current 7 Steady (19 April 2017)
Highest 3 (June 2016)
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 21 (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 (Spanish: Selección de fútbol de Colombia) 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 fifth in the FIFA World Rankings.[3] The team are nicknamed Los Cafeteros due to the coffee production in their country.

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 fan base.[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 World Cup qualifiers, Colombia showed improvement over the 2011 Copa América, bringing its rank up to 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, in 2014 Colombia finally returned to the World Cup, where they were able to advance to the quarter-finals, the furthest Colombia has ever made it in a World Cup.[7][8] Colombia's midfielder James Rodríguez won two awards, the Golden Boot for most goals (6) and Best Goal of the Tournament.

The 1962 World Cup match against the Soviet Union finished in a 4–4 tie after Colombia had been down 4–1, making it one of the biggest comebacks in World Cup history. In that game, Colombia also scored a direct corner kick goal, also making it the only direct corner kick goal in World Cup history.


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).[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, while 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 finished fourth with one win and three losses. Fernando Paternoster was the manager of Colombia, the side's first foreign manager.

Colombia did not play again until 1945, when they participated for the first time at the South American Championship, finishing in fifth place. This time, Colombia was composed by players of Junior de Barranquilla save 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. Austrian coach Friedrich Donnenfeld was the manager of Colombia during the tournament; he had moved with his family to Colombia due to World War II, 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. The team, however, repeated their losing streak since, as in the previous tournament, ended eighth with two draws and five losses, scoring four 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, 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 earned 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 finished 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 World 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 them in the first phase.

Colombia ended their qualification for the 1998 World Cup in third place with 28 points, two points below first-place Argentina with 30 points. Colombia was assigned to the Group G alongside Tunisia, England and Romania. Romania obtained 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. In the last match, however, England won the game 2–0, thereby eliminating Colombia.

2001 Copa America[edit]

Colombia won its 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 1 July, just ten days before the opening match.[12] On 6 July, 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 (a CONCACAF invitee) was 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 (a 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 defeating Mexico (a 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 the 2011 Copa América, Colombia made a good run topping their group and achieving a draw to the host nation Argentina, who were the favourites. In the next round, Colombia would be eliminated in a 2–0 lost against Peru in 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 its 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 the 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 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 in the knockout round, securing a spot in the quarter-finals for the first time in their history. Colombia then fell to hosts 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]

2015 Copa América[edit]

Colombia had a disappointing 2015 Copa América, having won only a single game during the group stage match against Brazil, with their only goal of the tournament. Colombia would be eliminated by Argentina in the next round via penalty shootout, ending their campaign with one win, two draws and one loss. Only one goal was scored for throughout the tournament, by Jeison Murillo, who would later win the tournament's Best Young Player award and be included in the tournament's Star XI.

Copa América Centenario[edit]

Colombia began their campaign with a 0–2 victory against hosts United States. Days later, they sealed their qualification to the quarter-finals with a 2–1 victory against Paraguay. However, they fell to Costa Rica 2–3 and finished second in the group following a complete change with 11 of their starters. On 17 June, they advanced to the semi-finals with a win against Peru on penalties 4–2 in front of 79,000 fans at Metlife Stadium. Colombia would then lose (2–0) to eventual tournament winners Chile following mistakes by their defence. Colombia won the third-place match against the United States to seal their best result since winning the 2001 tournament.


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 are not as popular as the rival matches against Argentina and Brazil.

The historical Colombian 5–0 victory in 1993, beating host Argentina in the 1994 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 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.

During the 2014 World Cup quarter-finals, Brazil was playing Colombia. The match ended 2–1 winning Brazil, with a wrongly disallowed goal from Colombian captain Mario Yepes that could have made the tie for Colombia. Since then, matches between the two countries have been played with great intensity and hostility.

Schedule and results[edit]

  Win   Draw   Loss



Current squad[edit]

The following 25 players were called up for the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification matches matches against Bolivia on March 23 and Ecuador on March 28, 2017.

Caps and goals updated as March 28, 2017 after the match against Ecuador.

0#0 Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club
1 1GK David Ospina (1988-08-31) 31 August 1988 (age 28) 77 0 England Arsenal
12 1GK Camilo Vargas (1989-03-09) 9 March 1989 (age 28) 4 0 Colombia Deportivo Cali
23 1GK David González (1982-07-20) 20 July 1982 (age 34) 2 0 Colombia Independiente Medellín

17 2DF Pablo Armero (1986-11-02) 2 November 1986 (age 30) 67 2 Brazil Bahia
2 2DF Cristián Zapata (1986-09-30) 30 September 1986 (age 30) 48 1 Italy Milan
4 2DF Santiago Arias (1992-01-13) 13 January 1992 (age 25) 32 0 Netherlands PSV
19 2DF Farid Díaz (1983-07-20) 20 July 1983 (age 33) 13 0 Colombia Atlético Nacional
2DF Frank Fabra (1991-02-22) 22 February 1991 (age 26) 10 1 Argentina Boca Juniors
15 2DF Stefan Medina (1992-06-14) 14 June 1992 (age 24) 9 0 Mexico Pachuca
13 2DF Yerry Mina (1994-09-23) 23 September 1994 (age 22) 7 1 Brazil Palmeiras
3 2DF Óscar Murillo (1988-04-18) 18 April 1988 (age 29) 7 0 Mexico Pachuca
22 2DF Davinson Sánchez (1996-05-12) 12 May 1996 (age 20) 1 0 Netherlands Ajax

6 3MF Carlos Sánchez (1986-02-06) 6 February 1986 (age 31) 75 0 Italy Fiorentina
11 3MF Juan Cuadrado (1988-05-26) 26 May 1988 (age 28) 63 7 Italy Juventus
8 3MF Abel Aguilar (1985-01-06) 6 January 1985 (age 32) 60 7 Colombia Deportivo Cali
10 3MF James Rodríguez (1991-07-12) 12 July 1991 (age 25) 54 19 Spain Real Madrid
20 3MF Macnelly Torres (1984-11-01) 1 November 1984 (age 32) 48 4 Colombia Atlético Nacional
21 3MF Edwin Cardona (1992-12-08) 8 December 1992 (age 24) 26 4 Mexico Monterrey
16 3MF Daniel Torres (1989-11-15) 15 November 1989 (age 27) 13 0 Spain Alavés
5 3MF Wílmar Barrios (1993-10-16) 16 October 1993 (age 23) 3 0 Argentina Boca Juniors
14 3MF Mateus Uribe (1991-03-21) 21 March 1991 (age 26) 3 0 Colombia Atlético Nacional

7 4FW Carlos Bacca (1986-09-08) 8 September 1986 (age 30) 40 13 Italy Milan
9 4FW Miguel Borja (1993-01-26) 26 January 1993 (age 24) 3 0 Brazil Palmeiras
18 4FW Duván Zapata (1991-04-01) 1 April 1991 (age 26) 1 0 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
GK Róbinson Zapata (1978-09-30) 30 September 1978 (age 38) 4 0 Colombia Santa Fe v.  Uruguay, 10 October 2016
GK Cristian Bonilla (1993-06-02) 2 June 1993 (age 23) 0 0 Colombia Atlético Nacional Copa América Centenario

DF Daniel Bocanegra (1987-04-23) 23 April 1987 (age 30) 4 0 Colombia Atlético Nacional v.  Brazil, 25 January 2017
DF Felipe Aguilar (1993-01-20) 20 January 1993 (age 24) 3 0 Colombia Atlético Nacional v.  Brazil, 25 January 2017
DF Leyvin Balanta (1990-09-03) 3 September 1990 (age 26) 1 0 Colombia Santa Fe v.  Brazil, 25 January 2017
DF William Tesillo (1990-02-02) 2 February 1990 (age 27) 1 0 Colombia Santa Fe v.  Brazil, 25 January 2017
DF Luis Manuel Orejuela (1995-08-20) 20 August 1995 (age 21) 0 0 Colombia Deportivo Cali v.  Brazil, 25 January 2017
DF Juan Sebastián Quintero (1995-03-23) 23 March 1995 (age 22) 0 0 Colombia Deportivo Cali v.  Brazil, 25 January 2017
DF Jeison Murillo (1992-05-27) 27 May 1992 (age 24) 25 1 Italy Internazionale v.  Argentina, 15 November 2016
DF Éder Álvarez Balanta (1993-02-28) 28 February 1993 (age 24) 7 0 Switzerland Basel v.  Argentina, 15 November 2016

MF Luis Quiñones (1991-06-26) 26 June 1991 (age 25) 1 0 Mexico UANL v.  Bolivia, 23 March 2017
MF Gustavo Cuéllar (1992-10-14) 14 October 1992 (age 24) 3 0 Brazil Flamengo v.  Brazil, 25 January 2017
MF Vladimir Hernández (1989-02-08) 8 February 1989 (age 28) 1 0 Brazil Santos v.  Brazil, 25 January 2017
MF Santiago Montoya (1991-09-15) 15 September 1991 (age 25) 1 0 Colombia Deportes Tolima v.  Brazil, 25 January 2017
MF Sebastián Pérez (1993-03-29) 29 March 1993 (age 24) 8 1 Argentina Boca Juniors v.  Argentina, 15 November 2016
MF Alexander Mejía (1988-11-07) 7 November 1988 (age 28) 25 0 Mexico León v.  Uruguay, 10 October 2016
MF Guillermo Celis (1993-05-08) 8 May 1993 (age 23) 6 0 Portugal Vitória Guimarães v.  Brazil, 6 September 2016
MF Andrés Felipe Roa (1993-05-25) 25 May 1993 (age 23) 2 0 Colombia Deportivo Cali Copa América Centenario

FW Luis Muriel (1991-04-16) 16 April 1991 (age 26) 15 1 Italy Sampdoria v.  Bolivia, 23 March 2017
FW Teófilo Gutiérrez (1985-05-17) 17 May 1985 (age 31) 49 15 Argentina Rosario Central v.  Brazil, 25 January 2017
FW Orlando Berrío (1991-02-14) 14 February 1991 (age 26) 4 0 Brazil Flamengo v.  Brazil, 25 January 2017
FW Jonathan Copete (1988-01-23) 23 January 1988 (age 29) 2 0 Brazil Santos v.  Brazil, 25 January 2017
FW Michael Rangel (1991-03-08) 8 March 1991 (age 26) 1 0 Colombia Junior v.  Brazil, 25 January 2017
FW Andrés Ibargüen (1992-05-07) 7 May 1992 (age 24) 0 0 Colombia Atlético Nacional v.  Brazil, 25 January 2017
FW Harold Preciado (1994-06-01) 1 June 1994 (age 22) 0 0 China Shenzhen v.  Brazil, 25 January 2017
FW Radamel Falcao (1986-02-10) 10 February 1986 (age 31) 64 25 France Monaco v.  Argentina, 15 November 2016
FW Roger Martínez (1994-06-23) 23 June 1994 (age 22) 7 1 China Jiangsu Suning v.  Argentina, 15 November 2016
FW Rafael Santos Borré (1995-09-15) 15 September 1995 (age 21) 0 0 Spain Villarreal v.  Uruguay, 10 October 2016
FW Marlos Moreno (1996-09-20) 20 September 1996 (age 20) 8 1 Spain Deportivo La Coruña v.  Brazil, 6 September 2016
FW Dayro Moreno (1985-09-16) 16 September 1985 (age 31) 31 3 Colombia Atlético Nacional v.  Venezuela, 1 September 2016

Individual records[edit]

  • Bold denotes players still playing international football.
As of 28 March 2017[33]