Colombia Profile

Major Honours Copa America (1)
Year Founded 1926

Nicknamed Los Cafeteros and having an incredibly passionate fanbase, the Colombian men’s national team is consistently ranked among the top 20 in the world.

Colombia have participated in six World Cups and won their first international title as the hosts of the 2001 Copa America.

They also finished runners-up at the 1975 Copa America and have appeared in the semi-finals six times.

Colombia played their first international game on February 17, 1926 - a 4-0 home win over Costa Rica.

Their first major tournament was the 1938 Central American and Caribbean Games, where they won the bronze medal with two wins and three losses. They also finished fourth at the 1938 Bolivarian Games in Bogota.

Colombia didn't play from 1938 to 1945 but returned to action in the 1945 South American Championships, where they finished fifth.

They finished eighth at the South American Championships in 1947 and 1949, but withdrew from the next three competitions.

Colombia and the World Cup

During the first two World Cups in 1930 and 1934, Colombia were not a FIFA member and thus not eligible to participate. They had secured membership by 1938, but joined the North America/South America boycott of the 1938 World Cup in France.

Colombia didn't enter the qualification process for the 1950 World Cup in Brazil, and they were banned from the 1954 World Cup by FIFA.

After missing out on the 1958 World Cup, Colombia finally qualified for and participated in the 1962 World Cup in Chile. They went home without a win after losing to Uruguay 2-1 and Yugoslavia 5-0, while drawing 4-4 against the USSR.

Colombia had five different goalscorers in the tournament.

Over the next 28 years, the closest Colombia came to qualifying for a World Cup was in 1974 when they lost out on goal difference to Uruguay. In 1986, they made the final four of the CONMEBOL play-off for the final spot but lost to Paraguay in a two-legged play-off.

Ending the 28-year drought

Colombia finally returned to the World Cup in Italy in 1990. They picked up their first-ever World Cup win in the group stage opener against the United Arab Emirates 2-0 as Carlos Valderrama and Bernardo Redin scored.

Colombia, Harold Lozano, Paul Gascoigne

Colombia fell to Yugoslavia 1-0 in the second game but advanced from the group stage as Freddy Rincon scored in the 93rd minute to secure a 1-1 draw against eventual champions West Germany at the San Siro.

In the round of 16, Colombia faced Cameroon. The game was goalless after 90 minutes but Cameroon scored in the 106th and 108th minutes before Redin got one back in the 115th.

However, Colombia couldn't find an equaliser and went home. Despite this defeat, it was still their best-ever World Cup finish to that point.

1994 Tragedy

The 1994 World Cup in the United States ended in tragedy off the field. Colombia lost to Romania 3-1 with Adolfo Valencia scoring the lone goal. In the second game, Valencia scored again in a 2-1 loss to USA.

However, the story of the match was defender Andres Escobar scoring an own goal in the 35th minute to give the hosts the lead. Less than two weeks later, Escobar was murdered in Medellin, Colombia, after being shot six times outside a nightclub.

Colombia won their final group game at the 1994 World Cup courtesy of a 2-0 success against Switzerland. However, the win was overshadowed by their elimination from the tournament and the murder of Escobar five days after the team had left the US.

His funeral was attended by more than 120,000 people and a statue of Escobar now stands in Medellin.

Last World Cup before another drought

At the 1998 World Cup in France, Colombia were eliminated in the group stage. They lost to Romania 1-0, beat Tunisia 1-0 and lost to England 2-0.

Colombia missed out on the next three World Cups. In 2002, they finished sixth in qualifying, missing a spot in the intercontinental play-off on goal difference.

Colombia, Republic of Ireland,

In 2006, they also finished in sixth place, one point behind Uruguay despite having a better goal difference.

They again finished one point behind Uruguay in 2010 qualifying to miss out on the World Cup in South Africa.

Return to the competition

Colombia returned to the World Cup in 2014 aftre finishing second in CONMEBOL qualifying, just two points behind top-of-the-table Argentina.

In Brazil, the Colombians opened the group stages with a 3-0 win over Greece as Pablo Armero, Teofilo Gutierrez and James Rodriguez scored.

Colombia, James Rodriguez, 2014 World Cup

Rodriguez and Juan Quintero both scored in a 2-0 win over Ivory Coast, and Colombia thumped Japan 4-1 as Jackson Martinez scored twice.

Rodriguez scored twice in a 2-0 win over Uruguay in the round of 16 to give Colombia their first-ever quarter-final appearance. Rodriguez found the net for a fifth straight game in the quarter-finals, but Colombia lost to Brazil 2-1.

Rodriguez finished with six goals and won the Golden Ball as the tournament's leading scorer.

Qualifying and competing at the 2018 World Cup

The 2018 qualifying process was a close one for Colombia as they finished fourth and grabbed the final place by one point from Peru and Chile.

In the opening group game of the 2018 World Cup, they lost to Japan 3-1 after Carlos Sanchez received a red card in the third minute. They bounced back to thump Poland 3-0 with goals from Yerry Mina, Radamel Falcao and Juan Cuadrado.

Rodriguez was injured in the first half of the final group game, but Mina scored in the 74th minute to beat Senegal 1-0.

Rodriguez missed the round of 16 game against England, and Colombia fell behind to a Harry Kane penalty in the 57th minute.

Mina headed home a Cuadrado cross in the 93rd minute to level the game and neither team scored in extra time. Colombia led 3-2 after three rounds of penalty kicks in the shootout, but Mateus Uribe and Carlos Bacca both missed.

Eric Dier then scored to send England into the quarter-finals; the first penalty shootout won by England at a World Cup.

Colombia in the Copa America

Colombia had never finished better than fifth at the South American Championships until 1975.

At the 1975 Copa America, which was played throughout the year, Colombia won their group and reached the best-of-three final against Peru.

They won the first game at home 1-0 before losing in Peru 2-0. The final match was played in the Venezuelan capital Caracas and Peru won 1-0, condemning Colombia to the runners-up spot.

Colombia finished third in 1987, 1993 and 1995, while also securing a fourth-place finish in 1991.

In 1987, they lost in extra time to Chile in the semi-finals before beating Argentina 2-1 in the third-place game. Carlos Valderrama was named the tournament's best player.

In 1993, they lost in the semi-finals to Argentina in a sudden-death penalty shootout before beating Ecuador 1-0 in the third-place game. Two years later, they fell to Uruguay 2-0 in the semi-finals and beat the United States 4-1 in the third-place match.

They hit the jackpot in 2001, when they hosted the Copa America for the first time. They swept through the group stage without conceding a goal before beating Peru 2-0 in the quarter-finals and Honduras 3-0 in the semi-finals.

Colombia then secured their sixth straight clean sheet and claimed their first-ever international title with a 1-0 win over Mexico in Bogota as Ivan Cordoba scored in the final.

Colombia finished fourth in the 2004 Copa America and third at the Copa America Centenario in 2016. They beat USA 1-0 in the third-place game after falling to Chile 2-0 in the semi-finals.

Colombia are set to co-host the 2021 Copa America with Argentina.

Colombia's biggest rivals

The biggest rivalry for Colombia is with neighbours Venezuela, although the match-up was very one-sided until the 2000s.

Colombia drew 2-2 in Venezuela in 2001 and coach Luis Garcia was immediately fired. In qualifying for the 2006 World Cup, the Colombians lost 1-0 at home to Venezuela.

Colombia also lost to Venezuela when qualifying for the 2014 World Cup. They last won on Venezuelan soil in 1996.

Colombia have 20 wins overall against Venezuela with 15 draws and seven losses.

Colombia handed Argentina their first World Cup qualifying loss at Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti in Buenos Aires in 1994 with a commanding 5-0 win.

Colombia have nine victories in 37 matches against Argentina while also earning nine draws.

Colombia's top players

The most capped player in the nation's history is midfielder Carlos Valderrama with 111 appearances between 1985 and 1998.

The free-kick specialist gained international popularity for his unique hairstyle - a blonde afro.

Goalkeeper David Ospina has picked up 105 caps since 2007, while defender Mario Yepes played 102 games from 1999 to 2014.

Midfielders Leonel Alvarez (101) and Juan Cuadrado (94) round out the top five.

Ospina is the most capped goalkeeper, with Oscar Cordoba having played 73 games from 1993 to 2006. Rene Higuita made 68 appearances from 1987 to 1999.

Radamel Falcao holds the top spot for Colombian goalscorers with 35 goals in 91 games since his first call-up in 1997.

Radamel Falcao, Colombia, 2013

Arnoldo Iguaran scored 25 goals between 1979 and 1993, while James Rodriguez has 23 goals in 80 matches since joining the senior team in 2011. Faustino Asprilla (20) and Freddy Rincon (17) round out the top five goalscorers for Colombia.

Colombia News