Wold Cup fever has erupted around the globe and although Colombia just missed out on making it to the competition, the Andean nation still has representatives in South Africa. And we’re not just talking about Shakira…
After experiencing something of a golden age in the 1990s – when Colombia qualified to compete in Italy (1990), the U.S. (1994) and France (1998) – the South American country has been defeated in the qualifying rounds for the last two World Cups, to the devastation of the nation.
But that hasn’t stopped a tingle of patriotism from running up Colombia’s spine this year. Reinaldo Rueda and Oscar Ruiz, both Colombian born and bred, will be making a prominent appearance in the FIFA World Cup 2010.
Colombian soccer coach Rueda, who made a name for himself by taking Colombia’s youth team to an impressive third place in the U-20 World Cup, will this year be coaching Honduras’ national side through the historic competition in South Africa.
The well-respected coach has also worked with Colombian soccer teams Independiente Medellin, Deportivo Cali and Cortulua, as well as carrying Colombia’s national team into the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
The pressure will be on Rueda when Honduras takes on Chile on June 16.
Meta-born soccer referee Oscar Ruiz will also have an important role in this year’s contest. The World Cup veteran has officiated in the last two competitions and will this year be working alongside his assistants Abraham Gonzalez and Humberto Clavijo.
Ruiz described the referee selection process as “tough and demanding, but in the end you see the reward,” and for the Colombian ref the reward is being part of the world’s most famous sporting event.
And let’s not forget about FIFA official Francisco Maturana, physical trainer Carlos Velasco and, of course, FIFA’s Official World Cup Entertainer Shakira.
So even if Colombia didn’t qualify for this year’s competition, the country undeniably has something to feel proud about and a reason to be touched by the World Cup fever.