The lowest hours of Colombian technicians

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Reinaldo Rueda only won six of 21 games with the Colombian team.

Photo: Rayner Peña

Leaving Colombia, with that squad, out of the World Cup is one of the loudest failures in the history of Colombian soccer. A debacle with shared responsibilities, but in which the highest percentage rests on his coach: Reinaldo Rueda.

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The Valle del Cauca player came to the national team after a turbulent time in Chile in which he had a performance of just 43%, with a balance of nine wins, eight draws and ten losses in 27 games. And the criticisms of a game without many colors and variants in attack that were not accompanied by the results either. A wake that was traced in Colombia, with seven games in a row without scoring (685 minutes), the worst record in the history of the qualifiers. With Reinaldo they only won six games out of 21 in their entire cycle, a performance of 38.4%. And the world surprise that a team with a large roster is out of Qatar 2022.

In the same days that Rueda signed the death certificate of one of the most talented squads in the history of our football, Juan Carlos Osorio, after so many setbacks, said goodbye to América de Cali after another sporting failure in his career. That he joins Atlético Nacional and the Paraguayan national team, a team in which he was never involved because of his desire to lead Colombia. His first words after landing there was that he dreamed of managing his country’s team. The marriage did not last. And Osorio, who directed the 2018 World Cup in Russia four years ago, is experiencing the most critical moment in his career as a coach. And he has not been able to consolidate himself, with peace, without criticism, anywhere.

And behind the two of them, the Colombian coaches with the best international prestige, there is no glimpse of another coach from that cartel. That is why Colombian coaches are not a priority to lead the team. And it is that, at least in the 21st century, they have not shown sufficient capacity to classify it to the world championships. Apart from the 2001 Copa América title with Francisco Maturana —who, along with Roll Gómez are the only coffee technicians to take Colombia to the top soccer event—they have only accumulated failures in the national team.

Rueda failed twice: on the way to Germany 2006 and in the recent elimination of Qatar 2022 with opaque football and without promoting the talent of one of the best generations of Colombian players. He arrived as the hope of recovering the game that in these lands, for the most part, is identified as his own: touch, dribbling in the last quarter of the field and goals. In the end, his whole speech about “restoring the identity of Colombian soccer” was populist.

The Caleño DT returned to the national team after the era of Carlos Queiroz, who implemented concepts that are mostly played in Europe, full of fast transitions. And in many commitments Colombia played very well and surpassed the rival. One of them, the remembered review against Argentina in the 2019 Copa América, where the national team was eliminated in the quarterfinals and on penalties against Chile, led by Rueda. The Portuguese strategist had to leave after the defeat against Uruguay in Barranquilla and the suspicious attitude of the soccer players in the humiliation that Ecuador inflicted in Quito.

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Returning to Rueda, after his departure in 2006, Jorge Luis Pinto arrived, who was thrashed in the 2007 Copa América in Venezuela and, after problems with some players, left the Colombian bench. Eduardo Lara also did not get the ticket to South Africa 2010 and the team at that time only went to that country to play a friendly. Return the bolillo Gómez, who had to leave because of the scandal he starred in when he hit a woman leaving a bar in Bogotá. Whoever was his assistant, Leonel Álvarez, took over with Julio Comesaña, but they tied with Venezuela and lost against Argentina. The good bye.

José Néstor Pékerman appeared, a well-known story. And Colombia returned to a World Cup after 16 years. Although the road to Russia 2018 was almost as rocky as the last, Colombia played its second World Cup in a row.

Thus ended the seven-and-a-half-year cycle of the Argentine who now heads Venezuela, who was replaced by Arturo Reyes, prior to the aforementioned arrival of Queiroz, who landed seven months later. Months that today, for many, weigh on the elimination.

In the local League there are only two young coaches, compared to those who lead the rest of the clubs, who may have a good projection, depending on the results, because the overwhelming success we live in means that, although the work and processes are good and have a good future, they end quickly if immediate results are not achieved. A common practice of South American soccer and that goes against serious and lasting projects.

Diego Corredor was a professional player and assistant to Julio Avelino Comesaña and Hárold Rivera in Patriotas, before embarking on his course as a coach.

In his three years at the helm of Patriotas, he was a constant cheerleader for Colombian soccer. A trail that he maintained with Deportivo Pasto, always climbing to the highest positions in the table. And now, in the Manizales team, after almost a decade off the map, with his concepts, he is trying to make it a competitive team. At forty years old, he also has a degree in Physical Education and took the technician course of the Association of Technicians of the Argentine Federation (ATFA). The goal is to never stop preparing. Two years ago, before directing Pasto, he was observing the work methodologies of Real Madrid Castilla and Getafe.

“We are always seeing a lot of Bielsa, Simeone, Guardiola and Klopp. The pandemic led me not to take the path of a rigid model ”, Corredor, who has tried to bring these associative game models to our football, told this newspaper.

“I like teams that are capable of attacking with five or six men in the rival box, that’s called offensive volume. And defensively, my first principle is the pressure after the loss”, says Corredor, who calls, as Osorio has done, to change the training methodologies in the formation that consist of leaning back, waiting and counterattacking .

“In training, that type of mentality is a problem for coaches, because in professional football it is very difficult to change the mentality of the player so that he is brave, scores a goal and does not back down but, on the contrary, seeks to score another. goal; but from childhood they taught us order, to defend and counterattack. Training methodologies must change and think about educating young people”.

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On the other hand, Luis Amaranto Perea is one of the Colombian coaches with the greatest projection, a coach of the Royal Spanish Football Federation, with a UEFA Pro license. A man who, due to his international filming, is called to become the second Colombian coach to direct in European football after Francisco Maturana, but he never had quiet times during his time at Júnior de Barranquilla. The desire for results.

With a slightly more conservative but effective football, Alexis Márquez has stood out, who is 45 years old and has managed to keep Deportivo Pereira in the first division and took it to the first professional final in its history, which it ended up losing to Nacional.

Alberto Gamero, 58, is one of the best coaches in the Colombian league. With unbalanced payrolls in Millonarios, he has been able to establish the Bogota team, in almost all his campaigns, as one of the best teams playing in the country. He also changed the direct style, with rapid transitions that had been seen in his previous processes. In Millonarios he has forged a team that wants to be associated with the ball and do damage with circulation.

The other great coach who is lining up in the league is Hernán Torres, who has put Tolima, with its direct football, but also associative, not very radical, as the team with the best results in the last two years in Colombia.

“We just had a Colombian coach and it went badly for him. That always happens: things went wrong for the Colombian, they are looking for a foreigner; things are going badly abroad, they are looking for a Colombian. But the Colombian coach definitely needs to be trained much more. Soccer requires a lot of knowledge and training, but it still seems to me that there are good coaches in Colombia. It is also required that they have a greater presence in international football, since there are very few”, commented Juan José Peláez, who was assistant to Roll Gómez in the 1998 World Cup in France, champion with Atlético Nacional in 1994 and managed several clubs, as well as Colombian youth teams.

Bolillo Gómez (66 years old) does not come from a quiet step in Honduras, like Jorge Luis Pinto (69 years old), who did not complete six months in the United Arab Emirates. Luis Fernando Suárez (62 years old), of great work in Costa Rica, hopes to overcome the playoffs and be the Colombian representative in the World Cup in Qatar.

The first has directed three World Cups, the second shone with Costa Rica in Brazil 2014 and the third wants to direct his third World Cup. The other Colombian who has been present at the World Cups is Rueda, who was with Honduras in South Africa 2010 and with Ecuador in Brazil 2014. But neither was a prophet in his land and there is not much renewal behind it. And all in times of identity crisis in Colombian football. What do we play?

That is also the problem for Francisco Maturana. “There are things that are recognized. In reference to the most current selections, I am not saying that they are better or worse, but they are different. From 98 to here, we have something different, which, for example, does not happen in Uruguay, where they know what they play. Before, everyone knew what Paraguay was playing at, today no one knows. Why? Because we all take models of the teams that triumphed, which is normal, because they always want to emulate the one that wins and it becomes a reference. And we’re not finding the style.”