Colombia National Team visits Venezuela and seeks to reach the playoffs – International Soccer – Sports

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Since the last date of the tie, Colombia had stopped depending on itself to reach the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The big door, that of qualifying directly for the World Cup, was closed last Thursday, despite the resounding victory 3-0 against Bolivia. Now it remains to enter through the window, that of the repechage, for which, in addition, you have to be with your ears on Lima and Santiago.

The Colombian National Team says goodbye today to the South American qualifier. You will have to go to someone else’s house, in which, surely, you will not find a favorable environment. Venezuela, the last rival in the tie, is just that, the last in the table. But Vinotinto always plays the match against Colombia as if it were that, the last. And that makes the match dangerous.

“They have been difficult, intense games. For the evolution of Venezuelan soccer. They have played excellent games against Colombia, everything that (Ríchard) Páez, (Rafael) Dudamel sowed in youth. That enjoys the selection today. Apart from the growth of the hobby there. It is up to us to do our part, to reach a good result and for the other games to take place. The important thing is the conviction we have, to play a very intense game”, said coach Reinaldo Rueda.

Time of truth

Match in Barranquilla, Colombia, between the national team and the Bolivian for qualifying for the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

Photo:

Vanexa Romero/The Time

The game also has an additional factor: the reunion with the coach who put Colombia back in the elite, the Argentine José Néstor Pékerman, who led the team on the routes to the World Cups in Brazil 2014 and Russia 2018; the one who, with a great generation of players, made her think big and achieved Colombia’s best performance in a FIFA senior tournament, reaching the quarterfinals eight years ago, and who was one penalty away from repeating the story, four years later.

Many things have happened since then: the dismissal of Pékerman in September 2018, an interim step by Arturo Reyes in four friendly matches and the arrival of a European coach to the Colombian National Team for the first time in 30 years, the Portuguese Carlos Queiroz. With him in charge, Colombia was in the 2019 Copa América, which left a bittersweet taste: the team went undefeated and without conceding a goal, but outside the top four of the tournament.

After a series of friendlies in which Colombia showed symptoms of a problem that would worsen later, the lack of goals, the pandemic came and Queiroz was unable to work with the team for almost a year, until the tie started, with a victory against Venezuela. And then, an in extremis draw against Chile.

Something broke between those games and the November 2020 games against Uruguay and Ecuador, two goals that conditioned the rest of the tie and cost Queiroz his job. Reinaldo Rueda arrived there, at the beginning of 2021, to try to straighten the path.

The 0-3 victory in Peru, the 2-2 draw against Argentina in Barranquilla, a Copa América not as good in numbers as Queiroz’s, but with a better sporting result (he was third) and the appearance of Luis Díaz as a figure began to excite Colombia with the classification. But then came a goal drought that was finishing the list of options, beyond the fact that many times the results favored the National Team.

to win and to pray

Colombia selection

The Colombian National Team clings to the miracle of going for the playoff after its victory against Bolivia.

Photo:

Vanexa Romero / TIME

Thus, Colombia arrived in Puerto Ordaz yesterday clinging to its football, Rueda’s approach and the combo of the radio, the calculator and the camándulas. It no longer depends only on beating Venezuela, but also on Paraguay and, to a lesser extent, Uruguay, giving Colombia a hand. Difficult, but…

Rueda will try to isolate the players from what is happening in the other two stadiums to maintain concentration and do their part of the task, beat Venezuela.

“We must concentrate on what is ours, shield ourselves from secondary results, which will determine our next step. It is not convenient to be worried, as a coaching staff, in communication or informing them. It’s not good, the players have to concentrate”, declared the coach. For now, Colombia only has to win today in Puerto Ordaz. Then whatever…

JOSE ORLANDO ASCENCIO
Sports Sub-Editor
@Josasc

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