After losing to Japan in the opening fixture of Group H, Jose Pekerman’s Colombia must take things up a notch and sort any obvious issues out from defence to attack, if they are still looking to qualify for the knockout stages. Even though it has only been one game into the competition, the chances of qualifying are only high when you win the first match and you don’t have to depend on the results of other teams.
Focusing more on the game, the vital goals from Shinji Kagawa and Yuya Osako gave Japan the three points whilst Carlos Sanchez’s sending off in the third minute of the match, meant that it was going to be a very long afternoon for the Colombia players. The early event in the match led the South American side to being dominated on and off the ball as well as sitting deep in their own half or chasing the ball in Japan’s half.
The poor decision made by Sanchez left referee Damir Skomina with no choice but to send him off, as Kagawa converted his attempt from the penalty and gave Akira Nishino’s men the advantage. 25 minutes later, Pekerman was forced into making a quick change that saw Juan Cuadrado leave the pitch with defensive-midfielder Wilmar Barrios coming on to replace him. Due to Japan’s midfield overrunning Colombia’s time and time again, the 68-year-old manager had to ease the situation by bringing on an extra midfielder despite it meaning that his main attacking outlet would have to go off.
Los Cafeteros started to gain some momentum back into the game and were looking to find an equaliser before the half-time whistle had arrived. With just over five minutes left to go, Falcao won a free-kick in a dangerous area just outside of the penalty box. Juan Quintero confidently stepped up to take it, and somehow struck the ball under the Japanese wall and past Eiji Kawashima into the net. The goalkeeper felt he had saved it off the line, but the referee’s watch showed different and it was officially game on.
The second half was very one-sided and painful to see if you’re a passionate football fan that wants to see an exciting match, as Japan continued to dominate possession but simply could not make it all tick in the final third of the pitch. With the main focus being on the three points, the well-known team from Asia increasingly piled on the pressure which finally led to a breakthrough for Japan.
In the 73rd minute of the game, Keisuke Honda’s inch-perfect corner was met by the head of Osako, who leaped just above the opposition’s defenders before his headed attempt hit the post and into the back of the net. By then, most of the Colombia players were incredibly tired and were running out of energy as they had to chase for an equaliser once again with just under 20 minutes remaining.
However, any dreams of Colombia completing a comeback of sorts were completely shattered as the referee blew the whistle for the last time. In the end, going down to ten men and conceding a goal in the first ten minutes proved to be nothing but a double blow for Colombia as they could not get into the game properly, even after Juan Quintero gave his side the crucial equaliser just minutes before half-time.
Now, Jose Pekerman and Colombia need to have the ultimate mindset that the only way they get past the group stages is if they beat both Poland and Senegal . If things do not go down as planned, Colombia’s early exit from the competition would be seen as a pure embarrassment, which could lead the Colombian Football Federation into making a managerial change before the summer is over.
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