Bring on England: Colombians believe their team will triumph

Posted by On 12:04 AM

Bring on England: Colombians believe their team will triumph

Colombia Bring on England: Colombians believe their team will triumph

Fans following World Cup swing between cautiously and wildly optimistic about chances

A Colombia fan before the match against Senegal.
A Colombia fan before the match against Senegal. Photograph: Marcos Brindicci/Reuters

Colombia does not really do quiet: the need for music, talk and laughter is too deeply ingrained in the national soul. But on Thursday morning its second city, Medellín, fell silent as if the soundtrack had been switched off.

It flipped back on at 10.33am, as throaty roars, shrieks, squeals and cries of “Gol! Gol! Gol!” burst out in unison on every street in the city.

Yerry Mina’s 74th-minute header against Senegal earned Colombia a place in the World Cup second round and now they face England in Moscow on Tuesday. Colombia celebrated with car horns, fireworks and a collective sense of relief.

“The triumph wasn’t so much from a footballing aspect but because of the capacity to overcome adversity,” said Alexander Otálvaro, a member of the association of Colombian sports editors.

Javier Villalba, a football fan from the Caribbean city of Barranquilla, said: “In Colombia, the national team is like a big family, everyone supports each other, so even though we have big stars they are not looking out for themselves, they are looking out for the team.”

With the England game just days away, the belief that the team is stronger than its individuals is becoming central as the country prepares for the challenge without its hero, the boyish Bayern Munich p laymaker James Rodríguez.

For much of 2018, Colombians have been hanging on news alerts on Rodríguez, gripped by the saga of his faltering marriage to a model, Daniela Ospina, the sister of his Colombia teammate David Ospina, the Arsenal goalkeeper. Now, they are gripped by the latest reports from the physio room on the No 10’s persistent calf problems.

Rodríguez seems likely to sit out the England match after hobbling off in the first half against Senegal.

Despite the absence of Rodríguez and doubts over whether the team’s captain, Radamel Falcao, is past his best, most Colombian fans swing between cautiously optimistic and wildly optimistic over their chances of defeating England.

The famous hair of Colombia’s Carlos Valderrama during the 1998 World Cup. Facebook Twitter Pinterest
The famous hair of Colombia’s Carlos Valderrama during the 1998 World Cup.

Among them is Gabriel Gómez Jaramillo, a midfielder in the legendary Colombia team that thrilled the world in the early 1990s with their outrageous talent and even more outrageous hair.

“It will be difficult for both,” he said. “England have a lot of good players, but they are very young. Colombia has the experience, and that is so important.”

Beating England for a place in the quarter-finals would equal Colombia’s best placing in the tournament, but World Cup success means much more.

“The World Cup means the opportunity to show the world we are much more than they think we are,” said Villalba.

“[It] is the chance to show our best face, to show there are a lot of warm, good people here and we are much more than the drug and violence problems that we have.”

The lowest point in the nation’s footballing history came when player Andrés Escobar was murdered in Medellín days after turning the ball into his own net, thus contributing to the team’s elimination from the 1994 World Cup.

However, while Colombia’s darkest times may be in the past, the present is still complicated. A peace deal with insurgents followed by a bitterly partisan presidential election two days before the first match has left the country divided like never before.

The World Cup, while it lasts, erases those divisions, and keeping that going for just a bit longer could be the true reward for beating England.

Topics
  • Colombia
  • Americas
  • World Cup
  • news
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Source: Google News Colombia | Netizen 24 Colombia

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