THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

wsc328 previewWhat are the expectations for the team?
Colombians are confident of making the second round and the big hope is to get to the quarter-finals.

Is the coach popular?
Very. The polite but firm Argentinian José Pékerman has kept both himself and the squad free of the controversies that have plagued Colombia in previous campaigns, earning him widespread respect. As a foreigner, he is said to have united a nation plagued by regionalism. He is no stranger to the country either, having played for DI Medellín between 1975 and 1977.

Are there any players who have appeared in TV commercials or other advertising?
Mainly the elegant Radamel Falcao, who looks and speaks like a model and is generally so well behaved that many Colombians think he can't really be one of them – in fact he's never played in the Colombian league and may well not recover from injury in time to play. In February the mayor of the town of Villa Rica led a march to demand the inclusion of their homegrown Hertha Berlin striker Adrián Ramos in the squad – it appears to have worked.

Is there a World Cup song?
Colombians were relieved their FA chose Latin pop star Fanny Lu to record a version of the national anthem for use in Brazil, after she managed not mess it up live before the qualifying game against Chile (as her predecessors famously tended to do). Other unofficial songs include Yo Soy Mundial in the popular merengue style of dance music and Vamos Tricolor by Medellín rockers Tres de Corazon.

Are there any players with unusual hobbies or business interests? 

Falcao is a devout Christian and along with his church has launched an advertising campaign against infidelity as well as other social ills (teen suicide and corruption). A Colombian man championing marital fidelity is another reason many doubt he is Colombian. Keeper Faryd Mondragón is backing current president Juan Manuel Santos in May's elections, meaning support for the ongoing peace negotiations in Cuba with FARC guerrillas – a key election battleground. It remains to be seen whether any of the current squad will back the "peace match" proposed by fellow 1990s veteran Carlos Valderrama and others, with the first half to take place in Havana and the second half in Colombia.

Will there be any rehearsed goal celebrations?
Expect an improvised dance from the Colombian coast, led by winger Pablo "folklore is in my blood" Armero and striker Jackson Martínez, nicknamed Cha Cha Cha for his dance-like moves on the pitch.

What will the media coverage be like?
Colombians can expect to suffer the extremely dull ex-Boca Juniors defender Jorge Bermúdez, who now works for ESPN. To get the country in the mood a new comedy has been released based on Chucho Posada's passionate radio commentaries while covering Colombia's 1954 World Cup campaign in Switzerland. Diego Maradona, incidentally, has signed up with Telesur, sponsored by Latin America's left-leaning governments and based in neighbouring Venezuela. But for political reasons few Colombians have access to it.  

Will there be many fans travelling to the finals and will they have any chants?
At last count in FIFA's second sales window Colombians were among the top five nationalities buying tickets, so it looks promising. Listen out for "Si si Colombia, si si Caribe" – a reference to the Caribbean port of Barranquilla where the team played their qualifying stage home games.
Jake Lagnado & Wilson Orozco

 

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