A few hours after Colombia’s first victory in the FIFA Confederations Cup France 2003, Oscar Córdoba gave an exclusive interview to FIFA.com from his team base in Lyon. The Besiktas custodian talked to us about his return to the new-look Colombian team, the upcoming crunch match with Japan and the importance of the South American qualifiers. He also sent a heart-warming message to the folks back home: “We want to return with the Confederations Cup”.

FIFA.com: How does it feel to be back playing for your country? What made you change your mind?
Oscar Córdoba:
I have great hopes for this Colombian side; it’s a very young team with just two or three experienced players. I decided to take up my responsibilities. In Colombia, many people are doing great work to enhance development; I didn’t want to stand aside and watch. I’ve always said that as long as you are fit you should answer your country’s call. And when you are out of form you should be gracious in accepting being replaced. Personally I think I had a good season with Besiktas, which paved the way to my call up for the national team.

Colombia looked surer of themselves against New Zealand.
I must admit the team surprised me a little. In our build up game against Ecuador, we were strolling around the pitch without any real direction. Here at the Confederations Cup everyone is focused and motivated to play against teams deserving of our respect.

What do you expect from Japan?
I haven’t really seen them play, but from what I’ve heard they are aggressive, fast and full of character. We have to concentrate on ourselves though. Another win would give us more confidence and help us to mature. That’s very important for our squad, which is very young and needs to gain in experience.

How important was it to break your goal drought?
It was hugely important. We’re relieved because we went too long without scoring. We sometimes felt the ball would never go in. But now we’ve broken the spell, I’m sure we’ll score lots of goals.

Is your aim here to win the tournament or to build a squad in time for the South American qualifiers?
When you take part in a competition you have to want to win it. That’s our main goal. Having said that it is true some players here are fighting for a place in the squad for the qualifiers. Now is the time for them to shine, and for those left at home to fight to get their place back. That’s life! It’s all about taking opportunities when they come along.

The South American qualifiers are notoriously long. Is that a good or a bad thing for Colombia now you are in a rebuilding period?
Everything’s relative. I have good memories of the qualifiers. When we started on the road to France 98, I wasn’t in Hernán Darío Gómez’s plans. The team was very experienced and bang on form, but little by little players picked up injuries or lost form and new players were called in. The stretched-out fixture list gives everyone a chance. Just last year Colombia used more than 60 players. Constant change means vital players can drop out and other bit-part players come in and become equally important over time. It depends on how you look at things.