The Colombian Under-20 soccer team will meet Mexico in the World Cup quarter-finals on Saturday after edging out Costa Rica with a last-gasp effort in a five goal thriller.
Colombia start as heavy favorites after winning all four of their matches so far. They will also have home advantage playing in front of a capacity crowd at the Nemesio Camacho stadium in Bogota after tickets sold out on Thursday.
Coach Eduardo Lara will be without defender Jeison Murillo, who is suspended after picking up his second yellow card of the tournament against Costa Rica. Five more players on one yellow card will have to watch their step to avoid missing the semi-final clash if Colombia wins.
Lara admitted the scandal surrounding disgraced senior team coach Hernan Gomez has affected the team’s preparations. He said, “the Colombian national team is a united family and Hernan was the head. His absence has hit us hard and distracted us.”
Colombia’s opponents Mexico have been the tournament’s over-achievers, progressing to the quarter finals despite only scoring four goals so far. In the last round they beat Cameroon on penalties after a tight match ended in a 1-1 draw. Colombia and Mexico last met in the semi-finals of the Toulon Tournament in June, with Colombia winning 2-1.
Mexican coach Juan Carlos Chavez said, “it’s going to be a very special match, and a tight one at that. Hopefully we’ll be at our best and show good character. It’ll be 11 against 11 with 50,000 fans in the stadium cheering the sides on, but ultimately they are not the ones on the pitch.”
In the tournament’s other quarter final ties, Portugal play Argentina on Saturday while Brazil meet Spain and France take on Nigeria on Sunday.