India is all set to host the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup, scheduled to kick off on 6th October. 24 countries from six confederations will be competing for one of the biggest honours in youth football, with the matches being hosted in six cities across the country.
In this segment, we take a look at Colombia's U-17 team and guide you through their journey to the world cup, highlighting their strengths, tactics and key players.
Confederation: CONMEBOL (South America)
Nicknames: Los Cafeteros, The Coffee growers
Known for: Ball possession, quick touches, aerial prowess of defense
Coach: Orlando Restrepo
PAST RECORDS AND LAURELS
India 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup will be Colombia's sixth appearance at the blockbuster event. It will be their first since Nigeria 2009, where they managed a third place finish. Apart from the World Cup, Los Cafeteros were crowned winners of 1993 Under-17 South American championship.
The Colombians possess a decent record at the South American games having grabbed the gold medal in the years 1994, 2010 and 2014. Such is their performance at the Bolivarian games as well where they clinched gold in 1997, 2005 and 2013.
ROAD TO U-17 WORLD CUP
Orlando Restrepo's yellow army booked a berth in the FIFA U-17 World Cup following their third-place finish in the South American Under-17 Football Championship this year. In the 17th edition of the tournament, Colombia defeated Ecuador and Uruguay, drew against Chile and fell prey to Bolivia, which led them to second place in Group A behind Chile and they eventually progressed to the hexagonal final phase.
Later, the team grabbed victory over Ecuador (2-1) followed by a draw with Venezuela and losses to Chile (1-0) and Brazil (3-0). With World Cup qualification at stake, they fought back with a 2-1 win over Paraguay to seal their berth.
PREPARATIONS AHEAD OF THE MEGA-EVENT
Following the Jose Pekerman (coach of Colombia's senior NT) strategy, the coaches of the junior team have chosen to prepare the players in a row of 'Microcycles'. The youngsters will also be engaging in some friendly matches with the local sides.
In the month of August, Colombia took part in the four-nation tournament (Torneo de 4 Naciones Tournament) in Mexico City which saw them defeat World Cup hosts India 3-0. The two sides have been drawn in Group A of the upcoming U-17 FIFA World Cup. Los Cafeteros were the first team to arrive in India, as early as on 20 September.
TEAM COACH AND HIS IDEOLOGY
Orlando Restrepo is in-charge of the U-17 side of Colombia. It must be noted that although Restrepo never played at professional level himself, he continues to deliver his expertise to the team. A life-long follower of the 90-minute game, Restrepo is also a sports technology practitioner and physical education instructor.
The 60-year-old possesses coaching experience at club level in his homeland, Bolivia and Costa Rica. He also enjoyed a successful spell with Atletico Nacional’s U-17 side between 2013 and 2015. Orlando has been in charge of the Colombian national U-17 team since August 2016.
Restrepo's Colombian outfit is usually seen keeping possession of the ball for most of the game and is also known for their quick touches. In addition to this, the defensive forces form a formidable part of the squad, thanks to their height and remarkable aerial strength.
The side usually likes to attack from the flanks with their wingers dominating the wide spaces, while hogging ball possession.
Goalkeepers: Nicolás Gómez (Deportivo Cali), Kevin Leonardo Mier (Atlético Nacional), Daniel Melo (Liga del Atlántico).
Defenders: Andrés Felipe Balanta (Deportivo Cali), Robert Andrés Mejía (Universitario de Popayán), Christian Andrade (Millonarios), Thomas Gutiérrez (Liga de Antioquia), Juan Sebastián Peñaloza (Liga de Antioquia).
Midfielders: Gustavo Adolfo Carvajal (América), Luis Miguel López (Santa Fe), Yair Meneses (Envigado), Andrés Felipe Perea (Atlético Nacional), Brayan Arley Gómez (Atlético Nacional), Guillermo Tegue (Liga de Antioquia), Etilso Martínez (Liga de Antioquia), Fabián Steven Ángel (Barranquilla FC).
Strikers: Déiber Caicedo (Deportivo Cali), Deyman Andrés Cortés (Atlético Huila), Jaminton Campáz (Deportes Tolima), David Barrero (Liga de Antioquia), Juan David Vidal (Barranquilla FC).