Colombia national football team
The Colombia national football team (Spanish: Selección de fútbol de Colombia) represents Colombia in men's international football and is managed by the Colombian Football Federation, the governing body for football in Colombia. They are an member of CONMEBOL and is currently ranked 10th in the FIFA World Rankings. The team are nicknamed Los Cafeteros due to the coffee production in their country.
|Nickname(s)||Los Cafeteros (The Coffee Growers) La Tricolor (The Tricolors)|
|Association||Federación Colombiana de Fútbol (FCF)|
|Confederation||CONMEBOL (South America)|
|Head coach||Carlos Queiroz|
|Most caps||Carlos Valderrama (111)|
|Top scorer||Radamel Falcao (34)|
|Home stadium||Estadio Metropolitano Roberto Meléndez|
|Current||10 (11 June 2020)|
|Highest||3 (July–August 2013, September 2014 – March 2015, June–August 2016)|
|Lowest||54 (June 2011)|
| Mexico 3–1 Colombia |
(Panama City, Panama; 10 February 1938)
| Bahrain 0–6 Colombia |
(Riffa, Bahrain; 26 March 2015)
| Brazil 9–0 Colombia |
(Lima, Peru; 24 March 1957)
|Appearances||6 (first in 1962)|
|Best result||Quarter-finals (2014)|
|Appearances||22 (first in 1945)|
|Best result||Champions (2001)|
|CONCACAF Gold Cup|
|Appearances||3 (first in 2000)|
|Best result||Runners-up (2000)|
|Central American and Caribbean Games|
|Appearances||2 (first in 1938)|
|Best result||Champions (1946)|
|Appearances||9 (first in 1938)|
|Best result||Champions (1951)|
|Appearances||1 (first in 2003)|
|Best result||Fourth place (2003)|
Since the mid-1980s, the national team has been a symbol of fighting the country's negative reputation. This has made the sport popular and made the national team a sign of nationalism, pride, and passion for many Colombians worldwide. Colombia is known for having a passionate fan base.
The Colombian team has participated in six World Cups (1962, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2014 and 2018). In Brazil 2014 the team achieved its best World Cup performance, reaching the quarter-finals of that event and coming fifth in the final standings. Its greatest international achievement is the Copa América, won in 2001, with Colombia hosting the event; it has also reached a runner-up in 1975 and reached semi-finals in 1987, 1991, 1993, 1995, 2004 and 2016. Furthermore, the team managed to make outstanding appearances at the continental level, obtaining from the Central American and Caribbean Games the gold and bronze medals in 1946 and 1938 respectively, and the Bolivarian Games the gold medal in 1951 and the silver medal in 1961, 1973 and 1981.
Colombia had its strongest period during the 1990s. A 1993 match resulted in a 5–0 win over Argentina which began a special "mutual respect" rivalry between both nations. The goalkeeper René Higuita achieved fame from his eccentric scorpion kick clearance against England at Wembley Stadium in 1995. Stars from Colombia's team included Carlos Valderrama and Faustino Asprilla. During this era Colombia qualified for 1990, 1994, and 1998 World Cups, only reaching the second round in 1990. Following the murder of Andrés Escobar after the 1994 World Cup, Colombia's team faded in the latter half of the 1990s. They were the champions of the 2001 Copa América, which they hosted and set a new Copa América record of conceding no goals and winning each match. Prior to that success, they were runners-up to Peru in the 1975 Copa América. In total, Colombia has gained a top-four result in seven Copa Américas. Colombia was the first team to win FIFA best mover in 1993 where the achievement was first introduced and the second team after Croatia to win it twice in 2012.
Colombia missed three World Cups between 2002 and 2010. During the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, Colombia showed improvement over the 2011 Copa América, bringing its rank up to the top ten for the first time since 2002 and into the top five consistently for the first time since 2004. After a 16-year-long wait, in 2014 Colombia finally returned to the World Cup, where they were able to advance to the quarter-finals, the furthest Colombia has ever made it in a World Cup. Colombia's midfielder James Rodríguez won two awards, the Golden Boot for most goals (6) and Best Goal of the Tournament.
Early years and maiden World Cup debutEdit
Years later, Colombia played at the 1938 Central American and Caribbean Games. The Colombia national football team was composed mostly by all the players of the Club Juventud Bogotana (now Millonarios). Alfonso Novoa was the manager of Colombia until 23 February.
The first game was played on 10 February 1938 against Mexico. Colombia was defeated 1–3; Luis Argüelles, Luis de la Fuente and Horacio Casarín scored for Mexico, while Marcos Mejía scored for Colombia. Colombia was able to obtain the bronze medal, with two wins and three losses. The same year, Colombia played at the I Bolivarian Games in Bogotá, where they finished fourth with one win and three losses. Fernando Paternoster was the manager of Colombia, the side's first foreign manager.
Colombia did not play again until 1945 when they participated for the first time at the South American Championship, finishing in fifth place. This time, Colombia was composed by players of Junior de Barranquilla save for Antonio de la Hoz (who played for Sporting de Barranquilla) and Pedro Ricardo López (who played for Boca Juniors de Cali). Roberto Meléndez was player and coach of Colombia throughout the tournament.
The first match of Colombia in the professional era was played on 6 April in the 1949 South American Championship, a 3–0 defeat against Paraguay. Austrian coach Friedrich Donnenfeld was the manager of Colombia during the tournament; he had moved with his family to Colombia due to World War II, and Atlético Junior would be his first team as a coach. As Junior was chosen to represent Colombia in the tournament, he became in the first European manager of the Colombia national team. The team, however, repeated their losing streak since, as in the previous tournament, ended eighth with two draws and five losses, scoring four goals.
After withdrawal in 1938 and getting banned in 1954 (due to the controversial El Dorado era), Colombia participated for the first time in qualifying for the 1958 FIFA World Cup in Sweden. Their first match was on 16 June 1957 against Uruguay in Bogotá, a 1–1 draw. Colombia lost their next matches, leaving them at the bottom of the group.
Colombia qualified for the 1962 World Cup, its first-ever FIFA World Cup by eliminating Peru 2–1 on aggregate. At the 1962 World Cup, Colombia was drawn into a tough group containing Uruguay, Soviet Union and Yugoslavia; both had achieved notable results comparing to Colombia. Colombia lost its first match, 2–1 against Uruguay. Luis Cubilla and Jorge Sasía scored for Uruguay at the 56th and 75th minute respectively, while Francisco Zuluaga scored a 19th-minute penalty goal for Colombia to give the Colombians their first-ever World Cup goal and a shock lead. In the second match, they earned a 4–4 draw with the USSR, champions of the 1960 European Nations' Cup. In this game, Colombia scored four goals against Soviet goalkeeper Lev Yashin, widely considered the best goalkeeper in football history. Also in that game, Marcos Coll scored the only olympic goal in World Cup history so far. Unfortunately, the Colombian campaign in 1962 ended with a 5–0 defeat against Yugoslavia, who finished in fourth place in the tournament. After the 1962 World Cup, Colombia didn't qualify for over 28 years before they returned in the 1990 edition.
1990s: The Golden EraEdit
At 1990 World Cup, Colombia was once again drawn with the Yugoslavs, alongside United Arab Emirates and powerhouse West Germany. Colombia defeated 2–0 to the United Arab Emirates to make its first-ever win in the World Cup, then lost to Yugoslavia 1–0, but earned their place in the Round of 16 after a respectable 1–1 draw with West Germany, who would later win the World Cup. Colombia would be eliminated in their next match against Cameroon with a 2–1 defeat in extra time, marked the rise of the new Colombian generation known as Colombian first Golden Generation.
For the 1994 World Cup, Colombia finished top of their qualifying group without having lost a match, which included a historic 5–0 win over Argentina in Buenos Aires. Expectations of the team were high, some even naming them as favorites to win the tournament. Colombia was assigned to the Group A with the hosts United States, Romania, and Switzerland. During the tournament, internal conflict within Colombia proved to be detrimental and harmful for the Colombian squad as the team was distracted from their main goal. Colombia only earned one win over Switzerland and suffered two losses, which would eliminate them in the first phase. The first match against Romania ended with a 3–1 defeat that resulted in cartels' threats to relatives of Colombian players. During the match against the United States, an unwanted incident occurred, when Andrés Escobar scored an own goal, leading to Colombia's elimination. Escobar was later murdered following the own goal in Colombia. This traumatic incident would lead to the demise of Colombia's first Golden Generation.
Colombia ended their qualification for the 1998 World Cup in third place with 28 points, two points below first-place Argentina with 30 points. Colombia was assigned to the Group G alongside Tunisia, England and once again, Romania. Romania, like the 1994 edition, obtained a 1–0 victory in the first match. Colombia's second match was a 1–0 win against Tunisia, with a goal from Leider Preciado. In the last match, however, England won the game 2–0, thereby eliminating Colombia from the tournament.
2001 Copa AmericaEdit
The 2001 Copa América was the first Copa América held in Colombia. Prior to the tournament, meetings were held by CONMEBOL authorities who were concerned about potential security issues in Colombia, and the tournament was canceled on 1 July, just ten days before the opening match. On 6 July, CONMEBOL decided to reinstate the tournament, which was held on schedule. Canada had already disbanded its training camp and released its players, so Costa Rica (a CONCACAF invitee) was invited to the tournament. Claiming that Argentine players had received death threats from terrorist groups, the Argentine Football Association decided to withdraw from the competition the day before the first game, with Honduras (a CONCACAF invitee) hastily invited and flown in by the Colombian Air Force to participate. There were no terrorist incidents within the competition. Colombia had a strong run through the tournament, winning their first Copa América title by defeating Mexico (a CONCACAF invitee) with a goal from Iván Córdoba in the second half.
The Declining Years (2002–2010)Edit
For the 2002 World Cup, Colombia only managed to place sixth in the qualification round, tied with Uruguay but failing to qualify due to goal difference. Colombia would also eventually fail to qualify for the 2006 edition in Germany and for the 2010 World Cup, mainly because their constant change of formations and struggles to score goals in the last games of the qualification.
The Revival and A New Golden Generation (2010–present)Edit
In the 2011 Copa América, Colombia made a good run topping their group and achieving a draw to the host nation Argentina, who were the favorites. In the next round, Colombia would be eliminated in a 2–0 loss against Peru in extra time.
The Colombian side gained Leonel Álvarez as the new coach following the resignation of Hernán Darío Gómez, but was sacked after three games with disappointing results, which led in the hiring of José Pékerman. The Colombian squad would break a personal qualifying best record, and raise the FIFA ranking consistently into the top ten and allowed them to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 16 years. Celebrations broke throughout the nation, as many neutrals hailed Colombia as a dark-horse towards being a World Cup contender. Often, Colombia were noted by many figures in Colombia such as Carlos Valderrama as a team that could become the most successful Colombian squad in history.
2014 World CupEdit
Colombia topped off their return in the 2014 World Cup after a 16-year absence by defeating Greece 3–0. Colombia then edged a 2–1 victory over the Ivory Coast to dispute Group C's top spot days later. On the same day, Japan and Greece drew 0–0 and automatically qualified Colombia to the round of 16 for the first time in 24 years since the 1990 World Cup. In its final group stage game, Colombia defeated Japan 4–1 to win Group C and become the third South American team (following Brazil and Argentina) to go 3–0 in group stage in World Cup history. The Japan match also saw goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón, the last active player from the country's previous World Cup appearance in 1998, become the oldest player ever to appear in a World Cup final tournament. Colombia went on to defeat Uruguay 2–0 on 28 June in the knockout round, securing a spot in the quarter-finals for the first time in their history. Colombia then fell to hosts Brazil 2–1 in the quarter-final round in controversy, where media and figures such as Diego Maradona criticized FIFA and Carlos Velasco Carballo for "favoring" Brazil and being biased in disallowing a goal from Mario Yepes and allowing too many fouls by the Brazilians to occur without any yellow cards being shown.
Despite the elimination, the national team was greeted by tens of thousands of Colombians in Bogotá, welcoming them back as heroes and restoring pride to the nation. Colombia would then receive the FIFA Fair Play Trophy and have James Rodríguez and Juan Cuadrado end as the World Cup's leading goal scorer and assist leader, respectively.
2015 Copa AméricaEdit
Colombia had a disappointing 2015 Copa América, having won only a single game during the group stage match against Brazil, with their only goal of the tournament. Colombia would be eliminated by Argentina in the next round via penalty shootout, ending their campaign with one win, two draws, and one loss. Only one goal was scored for throughout the tournament, by Jeison Murillo, who would later win the tournament's Best Young Player award and be included in the tournament's Star XI.
Copa América CentenarioEdit
Colombia began their campaign with a 0–2 victory against hosts United States. Days later, they sealed their qualification to the quarter-finals with a 2–1 victory against Paraguay. However, they fell to Costa Rica 2–3 and finished second in the group following a complete change with 11 of their starters. On 17 June, they advanced to the semi-finals with a win against Peru on penalties 4–2 in front of 79,000 fans at MetLife Stadium. Colombia would then lose (2–0) to eventual tournament winners Chile following mistakes by their defense. Colombia won the third-place match against the United States to seal their best result since winning the 2001 tournament.
2018 World CupEdit
Colombia qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup by finishing fourth in CONMEBOL qualifying with 7 wins, 6 draws, and 5 losses and drew a challenging group; playing with Japan, Poland and Senegal. The team was nevertheless considered the group favorites, but began their campaign with an unexpected 2–1 controversial defeat to Japan, with Carlos Sánchez being sent off after just three minutes of play. Colombia resurrected their hopes of advancing from the group with a 3–0 win over Poland, whose own chances of advancing were ended with the defeat. After the match, head coach José Pékerman dedicated the win to Carlos Sánchez. On 28 June, Colombia beat Senegal by a scoreline of 1–0, topping their group and advancing into the round of sixteen, and eliminated Senegal in process as well. On 3 July in Moscow, Colombia were knocked out by England in the round of 16; the game finished 1–1 after extra time, with England winning 4–3 on penalties.
Match referee Mark Geiger proved to be controversial, with criticism from both sets of teams. Colombia captain Radamel Falcao and manager José Pékerman both accused Geiger of favouring the England team during the match. Diego Maradona once again claimed favouritism against Colombia, saying, "England's penalty was a terrible call and that the ref won the match for England," and that Colombia were victims of a "monumental robbery". In response, FIFA said Maradona's comments were "entirely inappropriate" and insinuations about the referee "completely unfounded". A FIFA statement read, "Following comments made by Diego Armando Maradona in relation to yesterday’s round of 16 game, Colombia vs England, FIFA strongly rebukes the criticism of the performance of the match officials which it considers to have been positive in a tough and highly emotional match. Furthermore, it also considers the additional comments and insinuations made as being entirely inappropriate and completely unfounded." Maradona subsequently apologized to FIFA and its president, admitting some of things he said were unacceptable: "I said a couple of things and, I admit, some of them are unacceptable."
2019 Copa AmericaEdit
Following the federation's choice to not renew Pekerman's contract, former Iran's manager Carlos Queiroz was hired to coach the national team. After an impressive 8 goal run, winning 3 out of 4 of their pre-Copa America friendlies as well as conceding only 2 goals in only one, optimism for the Portuguese coach and the team itself was strong.;
Starting off their 2019 Copa América campaign, Colombia defeated favorites Argentina in a shocking 2–0 win, marking their first victory over the La Albiceleste since 2007.; Days later, they would face a very defensive Asian Cup champions and 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar with a 1–0 victory to end Qatar's unbeaten streak to eight and becoming in the first team in the group stages to advance to the next round.; Colombia would end their group stage run in perfect fashion with a 1–0 victory over Paraguay, resting a majority of their starters and finishing with 9 points with 4 goals scored and 0 conceded throughout the group stage.; Colombia would also be the only team since the 2001 edition to advance out of the group stage with a 100% perfect run.; Despite this achievement, Colombia was then eliminated by Chile in a penalty shootout during the quarter-finals match where Colombia performed poorly, only be saved by a referee over two disallowed goals of Chile.
Colombia's main geopolitical rival has always been Venezuela. However, because of the lack of interest for football in Venezuela, the rivalry was historically very one-sided for Colombia and thus considered irrelevant. This state of affairs started to change from the late 1990s, when football slowly began replacing baseball as Venezuela's main sport.
In 2001, Coach Luis Garcia was sacked for only managing a draw in an away game in San Cristóbal which ended 2-2 when a victory had been taken for granted. This was just a sign of things to come. Four years later for the qualification for the 2006 World Cup, Venezuela stunned the continent by defeating Colombia in Barranquilla 0–1. The game showed the new direction of the rivalry: while Colombia remains ahead on all rankings and competitions, Venezuela always outperform themselves when meeting each other. Former skipper Valderrama started calling the games a “classic” and stated “Venezuela kill themselves [do their best] playing against us.” 
As of 2020, Colombia has not been able to win on Venezuelan soil since 1996. During Jose Pekerman's coaching for the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification, considered the rebirth of Colombian football, Venezuela still managed to win their game at home, which was one of only three defeats the Argentinean suffered. Venezuela also won the group stage game against Colombia in the 2015 Copa America which were their only 3 points, Colombia still managed to advance to the knockout stage while Venezuela ended last. However, the matches are still not as popular as the rival matches against Argentina.
The historical Colombian 5–0 victory in 1993, beating host Argentina in the 1994 World Cup qualifiers, was the very first time Argentina lost in its home stadium Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti during a qualifying match for a World Cup. Argentina comes as a previous twice World Cup champion. It caused a huge upset and start of a respective rivalry. Unlike other rivalries full of hostility, the Colombian–Argentine rivalry is more based on "respect" than a "hated" relationship always attracting great interest between both nations. After the wane of the Valderrama's generation, the rivalry became one-sided again and since then only Colombians kept considering a classic while Argentineans consider it many steps below their historic rivalries against Brazil, England and Uruguay.
Colombia also has another small rivalry against Peru, which both fought in the Leticia War to control the Amazon region. Peru is often seen as the buildup of Colombia's football successes, as Colombia had eliminated Peru at the 1962 World Cup qualification to secure its maiden appearance. Matches between two teams also draw a great level of intensity, though not as hostile as with Colombia's rivalry to Brazil.
Colombia has a more hostile rivalry against Brazil due to the 2014 FIFA World Cup encounter, where Brazil defeated Colombia 2–1 overshadowed by Neymar's injury and referee's favoritism towards Brazil against Colombia.; This would later cause matches between the two national teams to be more intense, aggressive and to a certain extent, played with great hostility with numerous violent incidents, especially during the 2015 Copa América.; The rivalry would soon improve in a less hostile manner after the 2016 Copa Sudamericana Finals after Atlético Nacional asked to award the trophy for Associação Chapecoense de Futebol.; Nonetheless, it remains a competitive rivalry between the two.
|Colombia current kit (2019–2020)|
FIFA World CupEdit
|FIFA World Cup record||FIFA World Cup qualification record|
|1930||Not an FIFA member||Not an FIFA member|
|1950||Did not enter||Did not enter|
|1954||Banned||Did not participate|
|1958||Did not qualify||3rd||4||0||1||3||3||8|
|1966||Did not qualify||3rd||4||1||0||3||4||10|
|1990||Round of 16||14th||4||1||1||2||4||4||1st1||6||3||2||1||6||3|
|2002||Did not qualify||6th||18||7||6||5||20||15|
|2018||Round of 16||9th||4||2||1||1||6||3||4th||18||7||6||5||21||19|
|2022||To be determined||To be determined|
- 1.^ Played Intercontinental playoffs.
Champions Runners-up Third Place Fourth Place
|South American Championship / Copa América record|
|1916||Did not participate|
|1967||Did not qualify|
FIFA Confederations CupEdit
|FIFA Confederations Cup record|
|1992||Did not qualify|
|2005||Did not qualify|
All-time head-to-head recordEdit
- As of 16 November 2019
Positive Record Neutral Record Negative Record
|East Germany ♠||1||0||0||1||0||2||-2||0%|
|Republic of Ireland||1||0||0||1||0||1||-1||0%|
|Trinidad and Tobago||3||2||0||1||8||4||+4||66.67%|
|United Arab Emirates||1||1||0||0||2||0||+2||100%|
Results and fixturesEdit
Win Draw Loss
|26 March 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification||Colombia||Postponed||Venezuela||Estadio Metropolitano, Barranquilla|
The following 34 players were called up to the Colombia preliminary squad for 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification against Venezuela and Chile on 26 and 31 March 2020 respectively. The call-ups were withdrawn after the matches were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Caps and goals updated as of 19 November 2019, after the match against Ecuador.
The following players have been recently called up in the last 12 months.
|Pos.||Player||Date of birth (age)||Caps||Goals||Club||Latest call-up|
|GK||Edér Chaux||20 December 1991||0||0||América de Cali||v. Ecuador, 19 November 2019|
|GK||Aldair Quintana||11 July 1994||0||0||Atlético Nacional||v. Ecuador, 19 November 2019|
|DF||Óscar Murillo||18 April 1988||17||0||Pachuca||v. Peru, 15 November 2019 PRE|
|DF||Luis Orejuela||20 August 1995||4||0||Grêmio||v. Peru, 15 November 2019 PRE|
|MF||Gustavo Cuéllar||14 October 1992||7||1||Al-Hilal||v. Peru, 15 November 2019 PRE|
|MF||Andrés Ibargüen||7 May 1992||1||0||América||v. Algeria, 15 October 2019|
|FW||Roger Martínez||23 June 1994||18||2||América||v. Ecuador, 19 November 2019|
|FW||Luis Díaz||13 January 1997||14||1||Porto||v. Ecuador, 19 November 2019|
|FW||Stiven Mendoza||27 June 1992||2||0||Amiens||v. Ecuador, 19 November 2019|
|FW||Luis Sinisterra INJ||17 June 1999||1||0||Feyenoord||v. Peru, 15 November 2019 PRE|
|FW||Orlando Berrío||14 February 1991||6||0||Flamengo||v. Chile, 12 October 2019 PRE|
|Head coach||Carlos Queiroz|
|Assistant coaches|| Oceano da Cruz |
|Goalkeeping coach||Des McAleenan|
|Fitness coaches||Diego Giacchino|
|Match Analyst||João Peixeiro|
|IT and Media Consultant||Filipe Santos|
- Bold denotes players still playing international football.
- As of 15 November 2019
Most capped playersEdit
|9||Luis Carlos Perea||1987–1994||78||2|
|Luis Amaranto Perea||2002–2014||76||0|
Most capped goalkeepersEdit
|1||Radamel Falcao (list)||2007–||34||89||0.382|
|Antony de Ávila||1983–1998||13||54||0.241|
- FIFA World Cup
- FIFA Confederations Cup
- Fourth Place: 2003
- South American Championship / Copa América
- CONCACAF Gold Cup
- Central American and Caribbean Games
- Bolivarian Games
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Colombia national football team.|
- Official website (in Spanish)
- Colombia FIFA profile
- RSSSF archive of results 1938– (in English)
- International matches of Colombia during the Era Bilardo of 1980–1981 (in English)