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Colombian Soccer

Soccer, or futbol as it's called in Spanish, is undoubtedly the most popular sport in Colombia. The sport was introduced to Colombia at the beginning of the 20th century by British railway engineers, and quickly caught fire. Bogota and Barranquilla soon had organized clubs.

Colombian-national-teamWhile Colombia has never achieved the international prominence of other South American nations such as Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay, it has appeared in several World Cups, and has even been ranked as high as 4th in the world in FIFA rankings.

Colombia first qualified for the World Cup in 1962, and faced tough group play against the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and Uruguay, going on to two defeats and one tie, and being eliminated. Following this disappointing performance, it would be 28 years before Colombia would again appear in World Cup play.

Following a playoff victory over Israel, Colombia qualified for the 1990 World Cup, and faced a group with West Germany, Yugoslavia, and the United Arab Emirates. In their last group match against eventual champion West Germany, they fought to a 1-1 draw, earning Colombia its first berth in the World Cup tournament. They faced African powerhouse Cameroon in the Round of 16, resulting in a tie game after regulation time. Unfortunately, Cameroon went on to win the game 2-1.

In the buildup to the 1994 World Cup in the United States, Colombia generated a great deal of excitement, with some commentators giving Colombia a legitimate shot at winning the cup. Santa Marta's charismatic and unmistakeable Carlos Valderrama, known as "El Pibe", thrust the Colombian team into the international spotlight.El-Pibe

Colombia faced a group with Romania, Switzerland, and the United States. Colombia started out with a disappointing 3-1 loss to Romania. In their next match with the United States, Colombia's aspirations would be overshadowed by a fateful own-goal scored by Colombian defender Andres Escobar, resulting in a 2-1 loss. Escobar was later murdered in Medellin, allegedly over gambling losses caused by his goal. Colombia did defeat Switzerland 2-0 in their final match, but it wasn't enough to advance.Falcao

In 1998 Colombia again qualified for the cup, but finished with just three points in Group G, behind Romania and England. 2002 and 2006 were difficult times for Colombia as for both cups they just barely failed to qualify, both times finishing behind Uruguay in the middle of the table. Hopes were high in 2010, but Colombia again finished right in the middle of the table and behind its southern neighbors Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Argentina, and Uruguay. Thus, it would be three consecutive cups without an appearance for Colombia.

Yet, the 2014 cup qualifications presented a bright spot. With 4 games left to go, Colombia currently stands in second place in South America, behind only Argentina. Barring a catastrophic collapse in its final games, it appears almost certain that Colombia will earn a place in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Although Colombia has yet to experience the success of some of its neighbors, Colombian spirits are high, as is the quality of football. Colombia sends many players to play in Europe, such as Santa Marta's Falcao, and throughout Latin America, as is the case with Teofilo Gutierrez, who plays for Mexico's Cruz Azul team.Colombia-versus-United-States

Regardless of how Colombia does in the cup next year, one thing is certain. Futbol has been and will continue to be the lifeblood of Colombian sporting, both with regard to its national team, the Cafeteros, and its vibrant Categoria Primera A league (Liga Postobon), with teams such as Millonarios and Santa Fe in Bogota, Once Caldas in Manizales, Deportivo Cali in Cali, and Atletico Nacional in Medellin.

Colombia's next match will be on September 6th, at the national stadium in Barranquilla. They will be facing regional powerhouse Ecuador. The game is at 3:30pm. Don't miss it!

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