June 25, 2011

Group C Preview: Colombia

Colombia (#31)
Region: Conmebol
Coach: Ricardo Rozo
How They Qualified: Finished 2nd in Campeonato Sudamericano.
Prior Cups:
2007: DNQ
2003: DNQ
1999: DNQ
1995: DNQ
1991: DNQ

Roster (Average Age: 22.04)
Paula ForeroGKGol Star1910/0
Sandra SepulvedaGKFormas Intimas Medellin2311/0
Alejandra VelascoGKGol Star250/0
Nataly AriasDFUniv of Maryland2511/3
Natalia GaitanDFUniv of Toledo201/0
Fatima MontanoDFAguila Roja263/0
Yuli MunozDFEstudiantes2214/1
Kelis PeduzineDFClub Deportivo Eba2519/2
Andrea PeraltaDFEstudiantes2324/1
Tatiana ArizaMFAustin Peay State2010/1
Yulieth DominguezMFEstudiantes1712/3
Daniela MontoyaMFFormas Intimas Medellin208/1
Diana OspinaMFFormas Intimas Medellin223/0
Yoreli RinconMFGol Star1711/8
Carmen RodallegaMFSarmiento2729/4
Liana SalazarMFUniv of Kansas1810/0
Orianica VelasquezMFIndiana Univ2110/1
Lady AndradeFWLiga Bogota195/1
Katerin CastroFWEstudiantes195/3
Catalina UsmeFWIndependiente Medellin2117/14
Ingrid VidalFWGeneraciones Palmiranas2014/5

Recent Matches:
6/20/11WalesMatchworldW 3-1
6/18/11New ZealandMatchworldL 0-1
6/15/11DenmarkMatchworldW 1-1 (3-1 pk)
4/24/11MexicoFriendlyL 2-4
4/22/11MexicoFriendlyL 2-3
11/21/10ArgentinaCampeonato SudamericanoW 1-0
11/19/10BrazilCampeonato SudamericanoL 0-5
11/17/10ChileCampeonato SudamericanoT 1-1
11/13/10UruguayCampeonato SudamericanoW 8-0
11/11/10BrazilCampeonato SudamericanoL 1-2
11/9/10VenezuelaCampeonato SudamericanoW 5-0
11/5/10ParaguayCampeonato SudamericanoW 3-0
9/20/10ChileFriendlyW 2-1
9/18/10ChileFriendlyW 2-0

Colombia is one of two teams making their World Cup debut in 2011. Their 1-0 victory over Argentina at Campeonato Sudamericano earned them a ticket to Germany, with Ingrid Vidal’s goal celebration conjuring memories of Brandi Chastain and 1999. So now that Colombia has arrived at the world’s stage, what will they do?

Colombia posted a record of four wins, two losses, and a tie over a brutal 17 day stretch in Ecuador to qualify for this World Cup. The two losses were certainly nothing to be ashamed of, both at the hands of Brazil, one of them by a single goal.

Since then, they have played only five official matches, two friendlies against Mexico, both of which ended in losses, and three matches in the Matchworld, winning two with their only loss coming against fellow qualifier New Zealand.

Like Mexico, Colombia’s roster features several players that play NCAA soccer here in the US. One, former Maryland Terrapin Nataly Arias, actually grew up in the United States. Four others were born in Colombia, Natalia Gaitan (Toledo), Tatiana Ariza (Austin Peay), Liana Salazar (Kansas), and Orianica Velasquez (Indiana).

The two big offensive threats for Colombia are midfielder Yorely Rincon and forward Catalina Usme. Rincon, who is just 17, scored five goals in seven matches at the Campeonato Sudamericano. She scored twice for Colombia at the U-20 World Cup in 2010. Colombia finished in 4th place in that tournament. She has a strong right foot and can score from distance.

Usme, at age 21, is Colombia's most experienced and talented striker. She teams up with the aforementioned Vidal to form a particularly dangerous duo up front for Colombia.

Experience for Colombia comes from midfielder Carmen Rodallega, defender Kelis Peduzine, and defender Andrea Peralta. Rodallega recently scored twice in the Matchworld competition against Wales.

In goal, Colombia may have two choices. 19-year old Paula Forero led Colombia through the qualification tournament and did a fine job. However, Sandra Sepulveda played in the three recent matches at the Matchworld Cup and may start in Germany.

There is no doubt that Colombia has several talented young players, but do they have enough? One has to believe that Colombia’s roster is not as deep as the teams they will be facing in Group C so game and player management will be very important for coach Ricardo Rozo.

Colombia will be heavy underdogs coming into this tournament. They are a very young squad and outside of the Campeonato Sudamericano, they have played few matches. The recent Matchworld competition gave them a dose of what they will be facing in Germany, but just a small dose.

Colombia is ranked just 31st in the world. Qualifying for this tournament was a major step for the future of their program. It will be an uphill battle for them to survive Group C, however, it would certainly be within the realm of possibilities for them to pull an upset.

Note: Some information for this article was obtained at www.fifa.com and www.colfutbol.org.