The Colombian U-20 team did their homework in the first phase of the World Cup in the category in Argentina and ranked first in group C, with two wins and one draw.
Those led by Héctor Cárdenas have already left Israel behind, a demanding rival who put him against the ropes; Japan, who they beat with solvency, but suffered at the end, and Senegal, who almost took away their unbeaten record, but saved it in stoppage time.
Now, Colombia is getting ready for a new challenge: leaving Slovakia out and reaching the quarterfinals, one more step to, at least, try to match the best performance in the World Cup in this category: the third place that achieved in 2003 in the United Arab Emirates.
These are the five conclusions that left the first phase for Colombia:
There is a goalkeeper: Luis Marquines left doubts behind
One of the doubts that Colombia had left in the South American U-20 tournament in which it was local at the beginning of the year was the goalkeeper. Luis Marquines had had some doubts in that tournament. Many even asked Alexis Rojas, from Arsenal, as the starter. But Marquines brought out all his talent in the first phase of the World Cup: if Colombia qualified undefeated, it is largely thanks to him, especially in the first game, against Israel, in which he had a very high demand. There are no more questions.
Puerta comes without rhythm, but is still the leader
Gustavo Puerta had excelled in the South American and during the tournament he was sold by Bogotá FC to Bayer Leverkusen, who, in turn, loaned him to Nuremberg. Since the end of the tournament in which Colombia qualified for the World Cup, Puerta had no minutes with his new team. However, in the microcycles of work he maintained his level and He has managed to be important again, both in defense and in attack: he already marked Israel on the first date. In addition, he has a commanding voice.
Óscar Cortés has not been so brilliant, but he has been very effective
Óscar Cortés was the top scorer for Colombia in the South American Under-20, with three goals, and in the World Cup, although he has not had the same level as in Millonarios, he has also responded in the rival goal: he scored a penalty for Israel and saved the unbeaten in extra time against Senegal.
Two sins: always start losing and defensive doubts
Colombia always started losing in the World Cup. And although later the individual level of some players and the handling that coach Héctor Cárdenas has given from the bench allowed the team to overcome the first two games and tie the third, the group has had problems in the recovery, in which Jhojan Torres It has not had a good level, and some individual errors, like Kevin Mantilla’s against Senegal, which cost an incredible goal. Topic to correct.
Yaser Asprilla is increasingly collective
Yaser Asprilla, together with Jhon Jader Durán, painted to be the player to continue in this team from the beginning. He did not play in the South American and the Federation canceled his loan for the World Cup. You can tell that he is a player who makes a difference because of his talent and experience. He lacked, in some moments of the tournament, a little more collective play. When he got it, it made a major difference. Colombia is confident in their talent to go on in the World Cup and return to the semifinals.
Jose Orlando Ascencio
sports deputy editor