Jackson Martinez will partner Teofilo Gutierrez up front for Colombia’s crunch World Cup qualifier against Venezuela Friday night, coach Leonel Alvarez confirmed Thursday.
The Mexican-based striker received the nod from the coach after star man Falcao García was ruled out of the tie with a leg injury. Martinez has five goals in nine starts for Los Cafeteros.
“Martinez is a player who holds the ball up well, he is supportive and has characteristics very similar to Falcao,” Alvarez told a packed press conference at the team’s hotel in Barranquilla.
Colombia was forced to seek a replacement for Falcao after the Atletico Madrid striker was injured during Wednesday’s training.
Dorlan Pavon, the Nacional winger who grabbed the crucial opening goal in Colombia’s first qualifier – a 2-1 away victory against Bolivia last month – was confirmed in midfield alongside FC Porto duo James Rodriguez and Fredy Guarín. Carlos Sanchez will fill the final midfield spot if he is able to shake off a knee injury he picked up in training yesterday. Gustavo Bolivar is on standby.
David Ospina starts between the sticks while Gerardo Vallejo, Amaranto Perea, Mario Yepes and Pablo Armero complete the line-up in defence.
Colombia go in search of maintaining their 100% record in the 2014 qualifying heats with victory over their near rivals before facing Argentina, again in Barranquilla, next Tuesday.