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
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, MedellÃn, 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 âGol! Gol! Gol!â burst out in unison on every street in the city.
Yerry Minaâs 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.
âThe triumph wasnât so much from a footballing aspect but because of the capacity to overcome adversity,â said Alexander OtÃ¡lvaro, a member of the association of Colombian sports editors.
Javier Villalba, a football fan from the Caribbean city of Barranquilla, said: âIn 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.â
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 RodrÃguez.
For much of 2018, Colombians have been hanging on news alerts on RodrÃguez, 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 10âs persistent calf problems.
RodrÃguez seems likely to sit out the England match after hobbling off in the first half against Senegal.
Despite the absence of RodrÃguez and doubts over whether the teamâs captain, Radamel Falcao, is past his best, most Colombian fans swing between cautiously optimistic and wildly optimistic over their chances of defeating England.
Among them is Gabriel GÃ³mez 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.
âIt will be difficult for both,â he said. âEngland have a lot of good players, but they are very young. Colombia has the experience, and that is so important.â
Beating England for a place in the quarter-finals would equal Colombiaâs best placing in the tournament, but World Cup success means much more.
âThe World Cup means the opportunity to show the world we are much more than they think we are,â said Villalba.
â[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.â
The lowest point in the nationâs footballing history came when player AndrÃ©s Escobar was murdered in MedellÃn days after turning the ball into his own net, thus contributing to the teamâs elimination from the 1994 World Cup.
However, while Colombiaâs 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
- World Cup
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