Colombia had a mixed start to the World Cup qualification campaign for Russia 2018. An expected home win against Perú and a disappointing defeat against a decimated Uruguay leaves ‘los cafeteros’ on three points from the first two games.
The start seemed good, in a yellow coloured Barranquilla they took a 2-0 win over Perú, the match took a lot out of ‘el tricolor’. In the intense heat they could never really impose their will. Colombia had most of the possession, but apart from some small chances they didn’t really put the Peruvian goal under fire. It was Man of the Match Teófilo Gutiérrez who opened the scoring ten minutes before the break. Minutes before, Teo had gotten away with a yellow card after a ferocious challenge which heated the atmosphere but then at the other end he cleverly headed the ball backwards past the Peruvian goalkeeper. With Paolo Guerrero continuously creating danger in front of David Ospina, Colombia never felt comfortable with the lead, but in the dying minutes of the game a well executed counter attack sealed the first three points in Colombia’s favour.
Colombia travelled to Montevideo with confidence for the second game against Uruguay. ‘Los Charruas’ were stripped of their strikers Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez, both serving a suspension. They were happy to play their regular defensive game and an initial period that went back and forth didn’t see major opportunities. A set piece from Uruguay opened the game, star defender Diego Godìn headed home a corner in the 34th minute to give Uruguay the lead. Colombia tried to get back but the local defence stood firm and ‘los cafeteros’ didn’t manage to create danger in front of goal. In the second half Uruguay lifted the game to 3-0 leaving Colombia with three points in the middle of the table.
In the next international break Colombia will have a difficult program as they face Copa América winners Chile in Santiago on November 12 or 13 and continue in Barranquilla with a home game against Argentina on November 16 or 17 with exact times and dates yet to be confirmed. For Pekerman’s men, a new challenge awaits on the road.
By Freek Huigen