The lowdown on Colombia ahead of World Cup quarter-final against England

By Sports Desk August 09, 2023

Colombia stand between European champions England and a place in the semi-finals of the Women’s World Cup.

The sides meet in the last-eight clash at Stadium Australia in Sydney on Saturday, with Sarina Wiegman’s Lionesses having edged past Nigeria on penalties despite Lauren James’ dismissal, while the South Americans saw off Jamaica.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look the team England must beat to keep alive their dreams of global glory.

Coach

Renowned for developing talent, 67-year-old Nelson Abadia initially learned his trade in youth and lower-division football and has worked across South America. After a spell in charge of the America de Cali women’s team, he was appointed Colombia boss in 2017 and guided them to World Cup qualification via an impressive Copa America Femenina campaign.

Key players

Two women at opposite ends of their careers have carried the nation’s hopes in some style Down Under. Inspirational skipper Catalina Usme, 33, and Real Madrid’s 18-year-old Linda Caicedo, widely regarded as a superstar in the making, have each scored two of the five goals they have managed in the competition to date. As well as Usme and Caicedo, who finished top scorer in the Colombian league as a 14-year-old, Abadia has Atletico Madrid midfielder Leicy Santos, Levante forward Mayra Ramirez and Real Sociedad defender Manuela Venegas at his disposal.

Pedigree

At 25th, the South Americans are the lowest placed of the quarter-finalists in FIFA’s rankings, but, having already helped see off one of the pre-tournament favourites Germany in the group stage, they cannot be under-estimated. Runners-up to Brazil in last year’s Copa America Femenina, they travelled to Australia and New Zealand not only determined to better their previous best of reaching the last 16 in Canada in 2015, but of making a significant impression. Victory over an England side who, barring their thumping 6-1 Group D victory over China, have not been at their best, would certainly do that.

Style of play

Colombia have been described as “raw” in their approach to the game, an expression which says as much about their physicality – a behind-closed-doors warm-up game against the Republic of Ireland was abandoned at Ireland’s request after a bruising 20 minutes – as it does their freedom of expression. Abadia is not afraid to tinker with a system in which it is pace out wide which provides the threat, although his team is based on the solid foundation of a back four which have conceded only two goals so far in the tournament.

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