Colombia’s national soccer team will face off against Egypt on Friday in Italy as its preparations continue for the World Cup in Russia, which kicks off on June 14.
“Los Cafeteros” coach Jose Pekerman will be putting the finishing touches to his squad and finalizing all-important tactics as his side prepares to head for a sixth World Cup appearance at the showpiece in Russia.
After initially naming a 35-man squad, Pekerman has brought 24 players to Bergamo in preparation for the game with William Tesillo remaining as cover for injury doubt Oscar Murillo before the final 23 is officially announced before June 4.
Colombia go into the game on the back of a scoreless draw with Australia and an impressive 3-2 win over France in recent friendlies and with one eye on Russia, Pekerman will be looking to finally confirm his starting XI.
Injury concerns remain over central defenders Murillo and Cristian Zapata, the latter having been sidelined for more than a month.
The squad, which contains 11 survivors from those that reached the quarter-final of the 2014 World Cup faces an Egyptian side that has managed just one draw against Kuwait in its last three outings, falling to defeat against Portugal and Greece.
The north-Africans will be without attacking star Mohamed Salah, who was injured in last week’s Champions League final while playing for his club Liverpool.
Colombia will go into the game full of confidence in an encounter that striker Carlos Bacca sees as “important for preparation for the World Cup” so that the team can reach Russia “in the best possible condition.”
The Colombians have also been bolstered by the edition of former Argentina midfielder Esteban Cambiasso to Pekerman’s coaching staff.
“He was a great player, tactically he was a player to admire, a midfielder who always delivered and hopefully he can share that experience with us,” said left-back Frank Fabra to reporters regarding the new acquisition.
The Colombians find themselves in Group H for the tournament in Russia along with Japan, Senegal and Poland as they hope to replicate the performances that saw them reach the quarter-finals of the competition in 2014.
32 teams, including debutants Iceland and Panama will take part in 48 matches in the group stage to determine who qualifies for the second round of the tournament with the top two teams advancing from each group.
Colombia’s group is the only one in the tournament that does not contain a former winner of world soccer’s biggest prize.