Most fans consider the Colombian football team of the 1990s to be country’s greatest ever national squad. They remember with fondness the meteoric rise of soccer stars such as ‘el Pibe’ Valderrama, René Higuita and Tino Asprilla. The great players of that era continue to be icons of Colombian and international football today.
But the national team’s ‘new generation’ are competing hard for fans’ affection, stirring the feelings of passion and belief that encourage supporters to sing and shout from the stands. Players such as James Rodríguez, Juan Guillermo Cuadrado, Radamel Falcao, Jackson Martínez and others, under the technical direction of José Néstor Pékerman (an Argentine with a Colombian soul) are excelling on the pitch thanks to their talent, drive and pride every time they pull on the Colombian jersey.
The Colombian football team is on the up. The team’s performances have opened the door for Colombia in the World Cup, both the 2018 tournament and many more.
The Colombian football team along the FIFA World Cup’s story
Were you aware that after the first time Colombia played in the World Cup, in 1962, the national team had to wait 28 years to make their comeback? ‘El Pibe’ and his friends turned in some of the most memorable performances at Italia 1990. Their participation was a turning point for Colombian football.
With the hopes of a nation resting on their shoulders, the results didn’t go Colombia’s way and the Colombian football team was eliminated in the first round. That didn’t deter the ever-present Colombian fans from cheering and their loyalty was rewarded four years later. Colombia secured a devastating 5-0 win over Argentina at USA 1994, in an unforgettable match under the direction of ‘Pacho’ Maturana.
That ‘thrashing of the century’ is more alive in Colombian minds than ever and fans dream of reliving such a victory. The Colombian soccer team did qualify for France 1998, but were eliminated from the tournament having scored just one goal.
Colombia’s desire to return to the World Cup stage never faltered but fans had to wait until 2014 to feel the excitement of watching Colombia play in the World Cup once more. Having waited 16 years to see their players run out onto the pitch this time, there was more desire than ever and fans and players’ determination paid off.
After several tense football matches, the Colombian national team reached the quarterfinals, filling the fans with joy and anxiety in equal measure as they followed their team every kick of the way. The team was eliminated but not before inspiring supporters with the dream that the squad could one day progress even further.
Brazil: A World Cup fans will never forget
The Colombian football players were recharged and ready when the squad made its dramatic return to the tournament hosted just across the border. The team qualified with a 3-3 draw against Chile on October 11, giving fans the chance to celebrate following a nail-biting run of qualifying matches.
Greece were Colombian soccer’s first opponents in a tournament marked by its passion for the ‘beautiful game’. The Colombian national anthem rang out across a packed Minerao with thousands of fans singing their hearts out to guide and inspire their team to a thumping 3-0 victory.
The roll continued as the Colombian soccer team faced the Ivory Coast, securing a 1-0 win that brought them a little closer to World Cup glory. From that moment on, the talent and spirit of Colombian soccer began to make headlines worldwide.
In the last match of the group stages, Colombia thumped Japan four goals to one and headed into the final sixteen. Colombian fans could not believe what was happening. Their side was mere matches from lifting the World Cup. During the tournament’s closing stages, players such as James, Cuadrado, Martínez and goalkeeper David Ospina began to be recognized as some of the World Cup’s star players.
Every time a Colombian player scored, the team lit up the pitch with their uniquely Colombian ‘salsa choque’ dancing celebration and, across the world, the hearts of Colombian football fans swelled with passion and pride.
The pride and passion lives on
Millions of fans watched the Colombian football team shine in the 2014 World Cup and their desire to see their team triumph in Russia 2018 is greater than ever. James, Ospina, Cuadrado, Falcao and the rest of the squad will soon be bringing the country to a standstill. They’ll be going all out to lift a World Cup that, more than just winning a tournament, is a symbol of hard work, effort and Colombian sabrosura.
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