Colombia is set to build upon a recent run of form that got the national soccer squad to the World Cup quarter finals as they continue with the first friendly against Canada in 14 years on Wednesday.
This will be the first time the two sides meet each other since the 2000 CONCACAF Gold Cup final in Los Angeles, where Colombia unexpectedly lost 1-0.
The series of friendlies is a chance for the national coach Jose Pekerman to further strengthen Colombian roster after the impressive display at the World Cup 2014 in Brazil.
Against Canada, Pekerman will be poised to experiment with the squad with a handful of arguably new faces to make an appearance on the international level.
The stand-out name among the newcomers is Edwin Cardona. The young midfielder of Atletico Nacional is deemed to be a talented, yet wayward player. His name on the team-sheet is a topic of a debate among the soccer pundits in Colombia.
“I’m happy to be here […] I don’t want to fight anyone and I don’t have to silence my critics. I only want to work hard for my national team, my club and my family,” Cardona told El Espectador.
Next to the group of debutants, the Colombian team will feature the World Cup star James Rodriguez, the in-form striker Carlos Bacca and the returning Radamel Falcao.
Pekerman is confirmed to be on the touchline during the game, in spite of the tragic news of his mother passing away in the early hours on Tuesday. He will travel to Argentina to attend the funeral immediately after the game.
According to the President of Colombia’s soccer federation, Luis Bedoya, the federation is acting according to the wishes of Pekerman, who “for now will stay and not travel [home].” However, a press conference planned for Monday was cancelled.
Among those sending their condolences was President Juan Manuel Santos. On his official Twitter account, he expressed “all of his solidarity with Pekerman in this difficult moment.”
Colombia’s last game was a 3-0 victory over El Salvador on Friday in New Jersey. The team put in another positive display, with good attacking flow and goal opportunities. Despite that, some doubts were raised about the defensive form with the legendary captain and central defender Mario Yepes now retired from international football.
Canada is coming from a spell of four consecutive victories. The team’s coach Benito Flores’ plan is to revamp the national side, with vast majority of players under the age of 23. The transformation is thought to be a success, as Canada are on a lossless streak since November 2013. The game against Colombia will be their hardest challenge yet.
Possible line ups
- Camilo Vargas
- Santiago Arias
- Eder Alvarez
- Pedro Franco
- Pablo Armero
- Carlos Carbonero
- Alexander Mejia
- James Rodriguez
- Edwin Cardona
- Carlos Bacca
- Radamel Falcao
- Milan Borjan
- Andre Hainault
- Doneil Henry
- Adam Straith
- Luca Gasparotto
- Julian de Guzman
- Issey Nakajima-Farran
- Marcel de Jong
- David Edgar
- Tosaint Ricketts
- Marcus Haber