The road to New Zealand
Despite failing to retain the trophy they lifted in 2013, Colombia blossomed as the South American U-20 Championship wore on and bowed out on a high by clinching the runners-up spot for the second time in their history. Los Cafeteros advanced from Group B in third place following wins over Chile and Venezuela and narrow losses to fellow FIFA U-20 World Cup New Zealand 2015 qualifiers Brazil and Uruguay. However, they stepped it up a notch in the final six-team round-robin phase, going unbeaten thanks to draws with Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay and impressive victories over Peru and Brazil.
Style and strengths
Mirroring the philosophy of the senior team, Colombia's game plan is based on bossing possession and smart movement. This combination prevents the defence from being overworked and allows the side to conserve energy by not having to chase games, while also making it possible to get plenty of players into attacking positions. This was evident in Uruguay, where they peaked at the business end of the competition, had one of the best defensive records (conceding just five times in nine matches) and boasted six different scorers on the way to racking up 12 goals.
The squad oozes quality. Goalkeeper Alvaro Montero and central defender Juan Quintero are both rocks at the back. Key figures further up the pitch include attacking midfielders Brayan Rovira and Jarlan Barrera and forwards Rafael Borre and Jeison Lucumi. The latter was the team's top scorer in qualifying with four goals.
Carlos Restrepo has been there, done it and got the T-shirt with Colombia at U-20 level, having first helped his country reach the world finals in the age group way back in 1993 (though he left before the tournament in Australia). He repeated this feat in 2013, guiding his side to the round of 16 in Turkey after taking up the reins again the previous year. A calm and collected thinker, the 53-year-old has also enjoyed success at club level, picking up silverware in each decade of a career that has featured stints in his homeland, Costa Rica, Venezuela and Honduras.
FIFA U-20 World Cup record
New Zealand 2015 will mark Colombia's ninth appearance at the U-20 World Cup and their third in a row, having hosted the event in 2011 and qualified for the last edition in Turkey. Their best performance came at UAE 2003, where Reinaldo Rueda led them to a third-place finish.
What they said
"We gave a good account of ourselves and showed we're still a force to be reckoned with. We've made it to the World Cup again and now the onus is on us to keep working hard to continue our progress. We lacked a little bit of ruthlessness, otherwise we could have been in contention for the title. There's still more to come from this squad."
Colombia coach Carlos Restrepo.