The Colombian team will arrive at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Germany hoping to produce their best form in their first appearance at this level, continuing the progress made by the squad in recent years. Las Cafeteras reached the inaugural 2008 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in New Zealand where the team bowed out in the group stages of the tournament, and the U-20 team are now seeking to build upon this platform.
The process of shaping this highly motivated generation of players is being brought to fruition by national coach Ricardo Rozo. A former player with Millonarios and Academia, among other clubs, Rozo made the switch to women’s football and enjoyed success as coach of the Bogota provincial team, with whom he won national underage titles in 2006 and 2009, before taking the reins of the national side in February of this year.
Rozo inherited a cohesive unit of players which now faces a tricky group in Germany, where they will come up against the host nation, France and debutants Costa Rica. “A lot of the squad already took part in the U-17 World Cup. They have been together a while now and that could be very positive for us heading into the U-20 tournament” says the coach.
Players like the Ariza sisters, Natalia and Tatiana, Paula Forero, Paola Sanchez and Yoreli Rincon have already seen action on the world stage. “They show a lot of maturity and experience on the pitch. Many of them already have a World Cup and two, three or even four South American championships under their belts”, the Colombia manager proudly tells FIFA.com.
At the South American U-20 Women’s Championship, which doubles up as the qualifying tournament for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, Colombia played hosts and did not disappoint the home fans, booking their ticket to Germany by finishing runners-up to Brazil. The event proved to be a useful learning experience for the team. “Playing Brazil in the final was a good test for us ahead of the World Cup. We finished runners-up without losing a single game up until the final”, says Rozo. “Colombia has made up a lot of ground on the other South American teams, and hopefully the European sides as well. We’re confident we can compete at Germany 2010”, he adds.
All systems go for Germany 2010
The coach and technical staff are now getting ready for their second pre-tournament training camp, where as well as strengthening the existing team they will look for new talent around the country to supplement the squad. A number of friendly games are also being organised in advance of the tournament. “It doesn’t get any bigger than the World Cup. We want to make our mark so we need the best preparation possible”, says the team coach, who is also hoping that the climate will prove favourable to his charges. “I think the players will adapt well to Europe. The tournament is in summer so the heat will help the players to adapt more easily. They are really looking forward to the games. I can see it during every training session, so I’m hopeful we can give it our best shot at Germany 2010.”
The draw for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup pits Colombia against two tough European sides in Group A: the hosts Germany, who were champions in Thailand 2004, and France, fourth at the last edition of the tournament in Chile in 2008. Fellow debutants Costa Rica complete the quartet. “We are in a very difficult group, especially as we’re playing the hosts. Our goal is to get to the second round at least. Colombia will fear nobody and will take the game to their opponents. We have nothing to lose”, concludes the Cafeteras coach, as his team bids to be the surprise package of this year’s global showcase.