Colombia will be making their first appearance at the FIFA Women’s World Cup™, a landmark achievement founded on the recent progress made by the country’s youth teams. The U-17 side that qualified for New Zealand 2008 by becoming South American champions that year provided the core of the U-20 team that surprised everyone by taking fourth place at Germany 2010. Continuing their exciting progress, the nucleus of that ground-breaking unit has combined to great effect with some older heads to propel the upwardly mobile Cafeteras onto the biggest stage in women’s football.
The road to Germany
Despite losing 2-1 to Brazil, big wins over Paraguay, Venezuela and Uruguay took the Colombians to second place in Group B at the South American Women’s Championship in November. In the final four-team pool, a 1-1 draw with Chile and another reverse at the hands of the Brazilians left Colombia needing to beat Argentina in their final game and hope for the Chileans to stumble at the last. All ended well for Las Cafeteras, as they edged out the Argentinians and Brazil overcame La Roja, allowing them to slip into the runners-up spot.
The star players
Though only 17, Yorely Rincon is the leader of the Colombian pack, after scoring five goals in the qualifiers. The teenage midfielder is already something of a FIFA Women’s World Cup veteran, having formed part of the U-17 team at New Zealand 2008 and the U-20 side at Germany 2010. Defender Nataly Arias and forwards Catalina Usme and Ingrid Vidal are also players to watch out for when Colombia get their finals campaign under way.
During his playing career Ricardo Rozo ran out for Millonarios and a number of second division sides before moving into women’s football coaching in 2000. After proving his ability with Liga Bogota, he took charge of the capital’s junior representative side, guiding them to title successes in 2006 and 2009. Recruited by the Colombian Football Association in February last year, the 49-year-old Rozo then steered the U-20s to fourth at Germany 2010 before masterminding the seniors’ ground-breaking performance at the South American Women’s Championship.
Previous FIFA Women's World Cups
• Colombia have never qualified for the world finals before.
11 - The number of players who got on the scoresheet for the Colombians during the qualifying competition. Together they scored 19 goals, more than any other team in the tournament bar Brazil.
What they said
“I’d definitely say that Colombia are in the South American elite now. We’ve got some courageous women in this team who want to win and do Colombia proud. We’ve got plenty of time ahead of us to put in the preparation we need to have a great World Cup,” Colombia coach Ricardo Rozo.