When the FIFA U-20 World Cup starts this Friday in Turkey, there will be two noticeable absences: Argentina and Brazil, who both failed to qualify for this edition of the tournament.
While their absence it notable, this opens the door for other teams to claim the mantle of being the tournament favorites. One need not go too far as the favorites to win this edition of the U-20 World Cup is another South American team — Colombia.
Colombia had no trouble as it qualified out of CONMEBOL (South American Confederation) to earn their right to play. The country has had a renaissance of late with its senior national team about to qualify for next summer’s World Cup and strong youth sides that have performed well in recent World Cups.
In the last edition of the U-20 World Cup, which it hosted, Colombia reached the quarterfinals and saw its dream of winning on home soil end there as it lost to Mexico 3-1 in extra time. Just like that team, this team is talented enough and has had good preparation prior to the tournament as they lost in the final of the Touloun Tournament.
This Colombia team has more than its fair share of stars and future prospects who will be plying their trade with a top European team in a few year’s time. A player like Jherson Vergara has already been signed by AC Milan and this talented defender will lead and command a strong defense.
Further up the field, Colombia possess talented skill players like Juan Quintero and Andres Renteria. Quintero plays for Italian side Pescara and Renteria for Mexican club Santos Laguna. Both players give the midfield and forward lines the creativity and accurate finishing that can propel Colombia to winning the tournament.
So good and skilled is this Colombia team that it can not include a player like Eder Alvarez Balanta, a defender who plays for Argentine club River Plate.
Colombia have the recent pedigree and work to make a claim at being the favorites to win the U-20 World Cup. In addition to Colombia, a few countries that will also be making strong claims are fellow South American side Uruguay, France, Spain and Mexico, who have a number of players that were part of the squad that won the U-17 World Cup in 2011.