Group G: Colombia       Castellano   Page 2

Argentina  2

Austria  2

Belgium  2

Brazil  2

Bulgaria  2

Cameroon  2

Chile  2

Colombia  2

Croatia  2

Denmark  2

England  2

France  2

Germany  2

Iran

Italy  2

Jamaica

Japan

México

Morocco  2

Netherlands  2

Nigeria

Norway  2

Paraguay

Romania

Saudi Arabia

Scotland

South Africa 2

South Korea

Spain  2

Tunisia

United States

Yugoslavia  2

    Federación Colombiana de Fútbol 

Coach: Hernán Darío GOMEZ

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vs. ROMANIA

15.06.98 Lyon

vs. TUNISIA

22.06.98 Montpellier

vs. ENGLAND

26.06.98 Lens

Team Colors: Yellow shirt, Blue pants, Red socks

Confederation: CONMEBOL

Fourth appearance in World Cup finals (1962,90,94,98)

Reached final of the Copa América in 1975

Third in the Copa América in 1993 and1995

Key players: M Carlos Valderrama (Miami, Major League Soccer),

F Faustino Asprilla (Parma, Italy),

F Antony De Avila (New York/New Jersey MetroStars, MLS.).

Valderrama, always in the eye.

Keep an Eye on: Faustino Asprilla: The Colombian talisman, can be good or bad on his day.

Carlos Valderrama: Now a veteran, at his best he can manipulate stunning midfield creativity.

Anthony De Avila: A dedicated goal-snatcher, has won games when Asprilla is out.

Analysis: Biggest flop of 1994, this team is getting older. Asprilla, as he goes so do the fortunes of Colombia. Valderrama is 36, but still the dangerous hub of offense.

This is the last time you will see some of these players in World Cup competition and they will want to make up for the traumatic experience in US '94.

History: Soccer in Colombia was first practiced in Barranquilla, where British and other European commerce took hold around the 1900s. In 1924, the Liga de Fútbol del Atlántico was founded in Barranquilla and was admitted to the FIFA in 1931. In 1936 the LFA , which was really a regional league emcompasing the city of Barranquilla and its surroundings, was reorganized as the Asociación Colombiana de Fútbol.

The ACF is the only soccer association that belonged to two regional confederations at the same time. It first joined the Confederación CentroAmericana y del Caribe de Fútbol (CCCF) and the Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol (CONMEBOL...don't ask where the heck they got that anagram!) Around 1948 the Bogotá clubs begin dominance with Millonarios and Independiente Santa Fé leading the pack.

In 1950, Millonarios begins a renegade league which suspends Colombia from FIFA oversight. Argentina's Adolfo Pedernera, Alfredo DiStefano and Nestor Rossi help the "Millos" win three championship in succession. Dozens of foreign players were lured to the renegade league. Since the renegade clubs were outside FIFA's control, transfer fees were not obligated to be paid to those clubs who lost players. Colombia was placed in the position of outcast and no foreign team would play them. By 1953 most of the immigrant players left in frustration because of unpaid contracts and broken promises. Pedernera stayed on and was the national team coach when Colombia was reinstated by the FIFA in 1956.

On the international stage, the only notable results by Colombia were reaching the final of the Copa America in 1975 and twice finishing third in the competition in 1993 and 1995. As for Colombian club sides, the best result was achieved by Atletico Nacional Medellín by winning the Copa Libertadores in 1989. The coach was Francisco Maturana.

After a 28 year absence from the World Cup, Colombia, taken in charge by Francisco Maturana in the late '80's, suddenly made their presence felt by qualifying for three consecutive World Cups. Thanks to a group of young, talented players, Colombia reached the last 16 in the 1990 World Cup finals in Italy, finally going out to Cameroon and Roger Milla 2-1 in extra time. During the 1994 World Cup qualifying stage, Colombia showed their class by reaching the finals without difficulty. Along the way they ran over Argentina 5-0 at the Monumental Stadium in Buenos Aires on September 5, 1993.

Unfortunately Colombia were unable to rid themselves of the 'outsider' tag. In the finals in the United States they finished last in their group behind Romania, Switzerland and the United States. Defender Andrés Escobar, who scored an own goal in the match against the United States, was gunned down by a fanatical supporter on July 2, 1994, shortly after returning to his home town of Medellín. After the 1994 finals coach Francisco Maturana was replaced by his deputy Hernán Darío Gomez. Slowly but surely Gomez began to remodel the team but without making any major changes. He retained Carlos Valderrama, who despite being 36, was still the team's play maker, as well as striker Faustino Asprilla. Colombia made it to the finals in France by finishing their in their zone behind Argentina and Paraguay.

It will be interesting to see Faustino Asprilla confronting England, no doubt egged on because of his militancy on Newcastle United. Asprilla was the inimitable match-winner of Colombia's trek through the lengthy South American qualifying process. Irrepressible and enigmatic, the man named "El Pulpo" (Octopus) by his countrymen baffles even those raised in his part of the globe; he draws his opponents in, shows them the ball and is gone while they are still looking for it. Such joy, such art, laced with the occasional flash of temper.

Yet he is but one of the forces of nature that constitute Colombia. Others include Carlos Valderrama, the "peroxide Gullit", who bounces around midfield, defying his years; Freddy Rincón, the rangy midfield player-cum-forward, who flatters to deceive; Anthony de Avila, who partners and sometimes replaces Asprilla and who dedicated his winning goal over Ecuador in Bogotá last July to a couple of imprisoned lords of the Cali cocaine cartel.

Given the assassination of the unfortunate Andrés Escobar, who was shot dead in Medellín after scoring the own goal that eliminated Colombia in the 1994 World Cup, you might think players would lie low. But, with Juan Bellini, their former Football Association president, serving six years in prison for taking money from the drug barons, it is as hard to predict how well they will play as it is to be sure of the motives that surround them.

Trivia for the Pub: You will get brownie points from Spanish speaking folks if you spell it right the first time: Colombia, no U anywhere.

POSITION NAME AGE CAPS

G Farid Mondragón 26 21

G Oscar Cordoba 27 4 

G René Higuita 31 66

D Wilmer Cabrera 30 39

D Jorge Bermúdez 26 39

D Alexis Mendoza 36 67

D Iván Cordoba 21 9

D Hugo Galeano 33 1 

D Francisco Mosquero 24 1

D José Santa 27 22

D Wilson Pérez 30 37

M Mauricio Serna 29 35

M Andrés Estrada 30 14

M Carlos Valderrama 36 103

M Freddy Rincón 31 72

M Harold Lozano 25 30

M Luis Quiñones 29 17

M Herman Gavíria 28 22

M Neider Morantes 22  

M Víctor Pacheco 24 11

F Faustino Asprilla 28 37

F Víctor Aristizabal 26 39

F Luis Zuleta 23 4

F Hamilton Richard 23 17

F Antony de Avila 33 5 

Links:

FIFA  CnnSi  ESPN  Soccernet  WorldMedia

Faustino Asprilla ®ESPN

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