Montoya and The Supergirls ready to fly
Colombia are among the favourites for the Women’s Copa America
Aiming for a third consecutive FIFA Women’s World Cup™ appearance
Daniela Montoya looks ahead to their big challenge
Expectations are high in Colombia. Runners-up at the last two Women’s Copa America competitions, Las Superpoderosas (‘The Supergirls’) are hopeful this year’s tournament will be a case of third time lucky.
They have plenty of reasons for believing that will be the case, not least because Colombian women’s football has taken giant strides in recent years thanks to the creation of a professional league that is now into its second season and is home to the stars of the national team.
The arrival of Nelson Abadia in the dugout last September has also been a factor, with the team working hard in preparation for the big event, which starts in Chile next week.
The Women’s Copa America fact file:
Eighth edition of the competition to be held on 4-22 April in Chile
Brazil has won every edition to date bar 2006, when Argentina took the title
Colombia have finished on the podium in three of the last four Copa Americas
This year’s competition is doubling up as the qualifiers for the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™ (2.5 places), the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Tokyo 2020 (2 places) and the 2019 Pan American Games (4 places)
Naturally enough, the Colombia players and coaching staff have their sights set on a third straight FIFA Women’s World Cup™ appearance. Their previous one, at Canada 2015, marked a turning point in the history of The Supergirls, as they advanced beyond the group phase for the first time. In the process they recorded a significant win over France, one of the pre-tournament favourites.
The Supergirls beat Les Bleues thanks to goals from Lady Andrade and Catalina Usme
As Abadia announced a few weeks ago, however, the Colombians now have their sights set slightly higher: “They’ve been to two World Cups and two Olympics, but there’s still something missing, and that something is fighting for a title that would put them on another level in the international arena.”
Speaking from the latest Cafeteras training camp, midfielder Daniela Montoya echoed her coach’s words. “The team has a very clear objective: to be Copa America champions,” she told FIFA.com.
“There’s more responsibility now, but the mindset has to be very positive,” she continued. “We’ve done some great work. This is a group, a family, that have known each other for a long time now. We deserve to win and to keep making history.”
One of the senior figures in the Cafetera line-up, Montoya is aware of the huge challenge they face: “It’s going to be the toughest Copa America in history. The standard is going to be pretty even because every country is committed to women’s football now, to planning for the future and to arranging friendlies on FIFA matchdays, all of which is going to show at this tournament.”
Asked to name her favourites for the 2018 Copa America, Montoya replied: “Historically, Brazil have always been the team to beat. They’re the benchmark, though history can always change. We’re in the mix too, as are Chile. They’re the hosts and we played them in a couple of friendlies recently. They’re very strong opponents. And Argentina, who’ve always been there or thereabouts.”
The Abadia factor Abadia formed part of the coaching staff that helped the team excel at the 2014 Copa America, Canada 2015 and the 2015 Pan American Games.
“He’s a big part of those results,” said Montoya. “He’s a very intelligent man and we have faith in him. He likes to play a possession game, he drills us really well as a unit, and he gives us the security we need to play the attractive football that Colombia is known for. We know that with him we’re going to keep on making history.”
Did you know?
Since taking over as coach, Abadia has organised six training camps in preparation for the Copa America
Under Abadia, Colombia have played seven friendlies against the likes of China PR, Chile and Venezuela, recording three wins, two draws and two defeats
Colombia will travel to the Copa America with the nucleus of players that have made such a big contribution to their recent successes, though they will have the odd notable absentee, among them team captain Natalia Gaitan, who has failed to recover from injury in time. Abadia is already preparing the handover from one golden generation to another, drafting talented youngsters such as Manuela Vanegas and Valentina Restrepo into the squad.
As far as Montoya is concerned, the mindset of the team will be vital to achieving what is a long-cherished goal: “It’s essential that we stick together as a unit, that we’re compact and enjoy the occasion so that everything works out the way we want it to.”
Could it be that Montoya and her fellow Supergirls are about to get their hands on a first major title?