The Colombians have not graced the FIFA World Cup tournament for more than a decade and their qualification process has been anything but glamorous. In fact, they have been secretly been touted the dark horses of this tournament. On Saturday, in their group’s first match, they rose up to enhance that tittle of dark horses when the beat rivals Greece by three goals to nil.
Colombia last participated in the FIFA World Cup in the 1998 chapter which was hosted by France and has not been seen since until this latest appearance. They have been under the watchful eye of fellow compatriot, Jose Pekerman, who has been in charge since 2012. He seems to have put together a formidable team that can stand up to any opponents on any day.
When they went in to face the Greeks, they did not hold anything back. The vociferous crowd that seems to hound them everywhere they go did not help matters in terms of taming them. If a thing, they helped to make them into the giant killing machine that was witnessed at the Estadio Mineraio.
The Greek got an early nightmare when, in the fifth minute, Pablo Armero collected a brilliant pass from team mate, Juan Cuadrado and mercilessly fired home to sound early warning shorts. It served to settle the nerves of the South Americans and they then proceeded to build and maintain a brilliant brand of football. However, the opposite was true for the Europeans. From that moment on, their play was completely disjointed and they were never really a team. The few attacks they mounted into the South American territory were halfhearted and lacked adequate conviction and force. They were however rewarded for their efforts right on the stroke of half time when the Colombian goal keeper, David Ospina had to sum up all his goalkeeping prowess to make a save from a Pantagionis Kone effort from the edge of the penalty area.
In the second half, play stayed in favour of the South Americans and in the 58th minute Teofilo Gutierrez rewarded his team with a goal when he prodded home a flicked on corner in the goal area. The Greek play continued to come in dribs and drabs and, against the run of play, they were almost rewarded with a goal when Vasilis Torosidis picked out Theofanis Gekas but the latter watched in agony as his header sailed over the cross bar with the goal gaping. Their hope heightened by this attempt, the north Europeans piled on the pressure and they managed to sustain it for some time. Like hounds with the smell of impending blood in their nostrils, the Greeks poured forward to keep the Colombians between a rock and a hard place right up to the end of regulation time. It was against this run of play, when they had mounted a last ditch effort in the final minutes of injury time when Cuadrado’s incisive play on the right set up Rodriguez, who proceeded to fire home from the edge of the box, thereby sealing the fate of the Greeks in the match and, at the same time, announcing their arrival at the 2014 Chapter of the FIFA World Cup.