Women’s football team qualify for World Cup and Olympics
Colombia’s women’s football team is celebrating its qualification for the 2015 World Cup in Canada and the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. The 0-0 draw with Brazil in the final group game of the Copa America, held in Ecuador, left them in second place behind their opponents.
Even before the final match, the players were confident of qualification as only a heavy defeat against Brazil and a significant win for Argentina against Ecuador would have put them in third place. That would have meant a playoff against the fourth placed North and Central American and Caribbean qualifier.
Colombia’s star of the tournament with three goals, and one of South America’s best current players, Yoreli Rincón, was understandably upbeat despite the draw: “I think we showed in Ecuador and around the world that Colombian football is capable of big things. We’ve never come so close to winning a title before, and not being able to score against Brazil was very frustrating for us. As far as me and the rest of the squad are concerned, though, we are a champion team.”
Riding the wave of the recent World Cup fever, the Colombian women flew out of the blocks, claiming maximum points in a group with Uruguay, Paraguay, Ecuador and Peru, notching up a tally of ten goals in the process. Rincón immediately spoke of the team’s ambitions: “We want to be champions, that is the only thing we are going for in this tournament, we haven’t said it in so many words, but we are showing it match after match on the pitch.”
Colombia joined the final group stage with home nation Ecuador, Argentina and clear favourite Brazil, winner of four out of the five previous tournaments. In the opening match, Colombia tried hard to penetrate the Argentine defence but to no avail, with the match ending goallessThe second rubber against Ecuador was a must win and ‘Las Cafeteras’ came up trumps. Colombia dominated from start to finish but they only managed to hit the net twice, with goals from Echeverry and Rincón, and Lattanzio’s 86th minute goal for Ecuador made for a nervy finish. With their opponents for the final match ahead by two points, the Colombians still had it all in their own hands.
The tournament offers plenty of reasons for the Colombians to be optimistic – they were the only side to end the tournament undefeated and recorded the best defensive record, conceding just two goals. They also boasted the third most dangerous attack, with eight different players taking responsibility for their 12 goals.
Coach Felipe Taborda certainly saw the silver lining in a 0-0 stalemate with the six-time winners: “The most successful team in the history of the championship couldn’t beat us, which makes us happy. We achieved our objectives and we should be delighted about that.”
By Freek Huigen