FCD's Colombian trio reflects on Los Cafeteros first World Cup qualification in 16 years
For many years now FC Dallas has had a Colombian flair with players like David Ferreira, Jair Benitez and Fabian Castillo, so there was no doubt plenty of celebrating over the weekend as the Colombian National Team qualified for their first FIFA World Cup in nearly two decades.
“Los Cafeteros” secured passage to Brazil 2014 in dramatic fashion on Friday, October 11, coming from three goals down with two Falcao PK’s to draw Chile 3-3 and ensure a long-awaited spot in the World Cup. Colombia followed that result up with a 2-1 win over Paraguay on Tuesday, the last day of CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying, to finish second in the nine-team group, their highest finish in the current qualifying format.
“It’s very important for all Colombians,” Ferreira said through a translator on Thursday. “We’re really happy for the national team to make it to the World Cup after this many years. Hopefully we can do well and win the tournament.”
WATCH: Colombia 3 Chile 3
The World Cup has been a disaster for Colombians in their past two appearances with a combined 2-4-0 record in 1994 and 1998. For 34-year-olds Benitez and Ferreira, who were just starting their young careers at the time, the memories are still fresh.
“I remember the game when Andres [Escobar] had the own goal the most,” Ferreira said, referring to the World Cup ’94 game against the United States. “The whole world was expecting us to do well and we didn’t, but I just remember that last game with the own goal.
“I remember that everyone had high expectations and then we lost the first two games and it ended in a way we weren’t expecting,” Benitez said about World Cup ’94. “Hopefully now with our national team there are a lot of good young players in Europe. Hopefully they can give us different memories.”
Indeed, while 1994 was deemed a golden generation for Colombia, Jose Pekerman’s squad could prove to be the best Colombia has ever had. At the top of the list is prolific forward Falcao, bought by Monaco for nearly 60 million Euros, as well as Porto midfielder Jackson Martinez and AC Milan defender Cristian Zapata, all under the age of 30.
“We have lots of great players,” said Castillo. “Obviously it’s going to be very hard playing against European teams who play great soccer, but the expectations are winning the World Cup like every team.”
Which team would FCD’s trio of Colombians like for their home land to face in Brazil? Castillo and Benitez quickly mention reigning World Cup champions Spain, but for the pensive Ferreira it’s not about who they play, but where the journey ends.
“I don’t have a preference, I just want them to go win it,” said the FCD captain. “You have to beat every team to make it to the final.”