The 2014 World Cup was supposed to be Colombia’s time to shine, but an injury to star striker Radamel Falcao has put the team’s chances in jeopardy.
Falcao was officially ruled out for the tournament, with coach Jose Pekerman making the announcement on Monday from the team’s training facility in Buenos Aires. Falcao underwent knee surgery in January, but his recovery appeared to be going quicker than expected and Colombians had hoped that Radamel Falcao might return in time to compete.
Falcao had posted photos of himself taking nine-kilometer (six mile) runs, and the 28-year-old striker was initially included on the team’s 30-man roster. But Falcao was unable to return to playing shape in time to make the team’s final 2014 World Cup roster, and left off the 23-man roster submitted to FIFA on Monday.
“We can say to all of Colombia that he did more than was within his power to play,” said Pekerman. “He deserved the right for us to wait and keep the hope alive.”
Despite his injury, Radamel Falcao said he plans on traveling to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil to cheer on his teammates.
“I had great hope to play but, well, one has to support the team from outside and wish it the best,” Falcao said.
It was Radamel Falcao who helped Colombia reach its first World Cup since 1998, scoring nine goals in the South American qualifiers.
Colombia has had the benefit of several months without Falcao to prepare for his absence. Many are looking on Teo Gutierrez to pick up the slack.
Bleacher Report noted:
Now, more pressure will be heaped upon Teo Gutierrez, who became a solid strike partner for Falcao. His ability to drop deeper in the attack allowed Falcao to remain more of a poacher, which suits his skill set. Gutierrez should still be able to play more of a secondary striker role, with either Carlos Bacca or Jackson Martinez likely playing in a more advanced position.
Colombia will now move on to the 2014 World Cup without Radamel Falcao, opening its Group C play with a match against Greece on June 14. Before Falcao’s injury, Colombia was a favorite to win the group, which also includes Japan and Ivory Coast.