Colombia’s national soccer coach announced that he would wait until the “last minute” to make a decision on whether to include the country’s recovering star striker, Radamel Falcao, into the World Cup squad, national media reported on Wednesday.
Speaking at a press conference in Argentina, coach Jose Pekerman said that although Falcao’s inclusion into the 23-man squad is still unknown, he will give “El Tigre” the maximum time allowed to improve his fitness, El Espectador reported.
“For Radamel [Falcao] we will wait until the last minute that FIFA gives us to deliver the list of 23,” Pekerman said, referring to the final squad of players he is required to announce before the start of soccer’s most important competition on June 12.
“He has never stopped thinking that he can be there and we will not decide until the last minute,” Pekerman added.
Falcao, considered to be one of Colombia’s best players coming into the Brazilian World Cup, tore the ACL in his left knee while playing for his French league team Monaco in January and has had to train lightly post-surgery.
Although everybody in the soccer-mad country hoped for a speedy recovery in the months leading up to the competition, El Tigre acknowledged that he will not be 100% and hinted that not playing at all is very possible.
According to La Semana magazine, Colombia’s coach, who has brought the national team to its first World Cup in 16 years, also announced the unfortunate exclusion of center-halfback, Edwin Valencia, who had been plagued by injuries this past season. Valencia, who plays for Brazilian club Fluminense, was one of the surprise players during Colombia’s qualification stages.
Colombia will compete in Group C of the World Cup with their debut match against Greece on June 14 taking place in Belo Horizonte.