miércoles, 10 de junio de 2015

Las Cafeteras Wake Up the World

This guest post by Daniel Thacker, sports editor of Epigram, is part 6 of our joint blog series on the Women’s World Cup with Women, Work, Value
Part 1: Matthew Brown and Josie McLellan, How to Watch the World Cup?
Join us for a Twitter chat on these issues on Thursday June 11, 2015, 8pm-9pm BST. #WatchWWC   

Las Cafeteras Wake Up the World
By DANIEL THACKER
For Colombia, it was progress. While Las Cafeteras’ 1-1 draw with Mexico in Group F is hardly the most eye-catching result from the early stages of the World Cup, the point, secured with nine minutes remaining thanks to Daniela Montoya’s brilliant strike, leaves the South Americans with a good chance of reaching the knockout phase for the first time ever. There is a bullishness, particularly in Colombia, which makes one believe that the sueño en Canadá (dream in Canada) that the Twitter account (@FCPoderosas) so brazenly boasts about might actually become a reality.
While it may seem presumptuous for the young, inexperienced side to be dreaming of qualification from a group which also includes European heavyweights France and England, there was little about the way this Colombian outfit confidently went about their business in the Moncton Stadium on Tuesday evening to indicate they were out of their depth. Indeed, the country’s maiden World Cup goal was more than merited after an enterprising attacking display in which Las Chicas Superpodorosas hit the woodwork and had a goal disallowed for offside.
If the performance served as a wake-up call to the rest of the world not to underestimate Felipe Taborda’s hard-running troops, it came as no surprise back home in Colombia, which has been gripped by football fever for weeks. Only days before the male Copa América begins, one of the country’s major football websites, Futbolred.com, devoted its entire homepage to the women’s World Cup campaign, with previews of the Mexico clash and interviews with captain Natalia Gaitán and Oriánica Velásquez. Leading dailies El Tiempo and El Espectador followed suit, with several articles on the country’s opening match in their sport sections.
Yet while the prevailing mood pre-match was bullish, it was tinged with an unmistakeable nervousness. After all, despite finishing as runners-up at the 2014 Copa América, when only a stalemate against Brazil prevented them lifting the trophy, Colombia managed one point in their solitary previous World Cup appearance, Germany 2011, and that courtesy of a 0-0 draw with North Korea – departing the tournament without scoring. Indeed, even having developed into CONMEBOL’s second-best side over recent years, they slumped to a 2-0 defeat to Mexico as recently as November.
That nervousness was only heightened when El Tri took the lead in the 36th minute through Veronica Pérez. Yet, inspired by goalscorer Montoya and playmaker Yoreli Rincón, Colombia remained in control, defending like the side which only conceded twice in seven games at the Copa América and attacking with the verve and ebullience which mark out Rincón and Velásquez not so much as stars of the future but as stars of the here and now.

With one of the tournament favourites, France, having burst out of the blocks and beaten an out-of-sorts England 1-0, essentially securing qualification, it is now a three-horse race to reach the last 16 from Group F between the Colombians, the Mexicans and the English. However, with four of the best third-placed teams from the six groups qualifying for the knockouts, a positive result against either the French on Saturday or the English the following Wednesday could pave the way to the promised land.
Despite Taborda’s expectation-dampening insistence that ‘against the Europeans, we will be inferior in some areas,’ back in Colombia they’ll tune in. After all, futbolred.com’s most shared article on Wednesday evening was the minute-by-minute report of the game in which Las Cafeteras scored their first World Cup goal. Imagine what’ll happen when they record their first win.

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