Colombia at the 1994 FIFA World Cup

Colombia had arrived at the 1994 FIFA World Cup with high expectations. An impressive qualifying campaign had included a 5-0 win over Argentina in Buenos Aires and the Colombians played with a dazzling, carefree style that seemed to have been lost from the South American game.


Colombia 1994 Colombian Squad

Head coach: Francisco Maturana

No. Pos. Player DoB/Age Caps Club
1 1GK Óscar Córdoba 3 February 1970 (aged 24) Colombia América Cali
2 2DF Andrés Escobar 13 March 1967 (aged 27) Colombia Atlético Nacional
3 2DF Alexis Mendoza 8 November 1961 (aged 32) Colombia Atlético Junior
4 2DF Luis Fernando Herrera 12 June 1962 (aged 32) Colombia Atlético Nacional
5 3MF Hermán Gaviria 27 November 1969 (aged 24) Colombia Atlético Nacional
6 3MF Gabriel Gómez 8 December 1959 (aged 34) Colombia Atlético Nacional
7 4FW Antony de Ávila 21 December 1962 (aged 31) Colombia América Cali
8 3MF Harold Lozano 30 March 1972 (aged 22) Colombia América Cali
9 4FW Iván Valenciano 18 March 1972 (aged 22) Colombia Atlético Junior
10 3MF Carlos Valderrama 2 September 1961 (aged 32) Colombia Atlético Junior
11 4FW Adolfo Valencia 6 February 1968 (aged 26) Germany Bayern Munich
12 1GK Farid Mondragón 21 June 1971 (aged 22) Argentina Argentinos Juniors
13 2DF Néstor Ortiz 20 September 1968 (aged 25) Colombia Once Caldas
14 3MF Leonel Álvarez 29 July 1965 (aged 28) Colombia América Cali
15 2DF Luis Carlos Perea 29 December 1963 (aged 30) Colombia Atlético Junior
16 4FW Víctor Aristizábal 9 December 1971 (aged 22) Colombia Atlético Nacional
17 3MF Mauricio Serna 22 January 1968 (aged 26) Colombia Atlético Nacional
18 2DF Óscar Cortés 19 October 1968 (aged 25) Colombia Millonarios
19 3MF Freddy Rincón 14 August 1966 (aged 27) Brazil Palmeiras
20 2DF Wilson Pérez 6 August 1967 (aged 26) Colombia América Cali
21 4FW Faustino Asprilla 10 November 1969 (aged 24) Italy Parma
22 1GK José María Pazo 4 April 1964 (aged 30) Colombia Atlético Junior

1994 FIFA World Cup Qualification

Following an early exit at Italia '90, Colombia was ready to show the world their skill in football. Colombia would have an impressive campaign that included a shocking 5-0 win over Argentina in Buenos Aires leaving them undefeated in Group A. Ironically, Argentina had been undefeated for 30 games until they lost against Colombia in Barranquilla 2-1 on August 18. On September 5, 1993, Argentina welcomed Colombia to Buenos Aires for their final Group A qualifier for USA 94. Lying a point behind the Cafeteros, Alfio Basile's side needed a win to qualify directly while Colombia needed a tie. What they produced instead was one of biggest debacles in the history of Argentine football as they were crushed 5-0 by the Colombians and consigned to a play-off against Australia. This historic victory made Colombia one of the favorites to win the 1994 FIFA World Cup.

Qualification - CONMEBOL Group A

August 1, 1993, Barranquilla, Colombia -  Colombia 0 - 0  Paraguay

August 1, 1993, Lima, Peru -  Peru 0 - 1  Argentina

August 8, 1993, Asunción, Paraguay -  Paraguay 1 - 3  Argentina

August 8, 1993, Lima, Peru -  Peru 0 - 1  Colombia

August 15, 1993, Asunción, Paraguay -  Paraguay 2 - 1  Peru

August 18, 1993, Barranquilla, Colombia -  Colombia 2 - 1  Argentina

August 22, 1993, Buenos Aires, Argentina -  Argentina 2 - 1  Peru

August 22, 1993, Asunción, Paraguay -  Paraguay 1 - 1  Colombia

August 29, 1993, Buenos Aires, Argentina -  Argentina 0 - 0  Paraguay

August 29, 1993, Barranquilla, Colombia -  Colombia 4 - 0  Peru

September 5, 1993, Lima, Peru -  Peru 2 - 2  Paraguay

September 5, 1993, Buenos Aires, Argentina -  Argentina 0 - 5  Colombia

Rank Team Pts Pld W D L GF GA GD
1  Colombia 10 6 4 2 0 13 2 11
2  Argentina 7 6 3 1 2 7 9 -2
3  Paraguay 6 6 1 4 1 6 7 -1
4  Peru 1 6 0 1 5 4 12 -8

Colombia qualified. Argentina advanced to the CONMEBOL / CONCACAF / OFC Intercontinental Play-off.

1994 FIFA World Cup

The 1994 FIFA World Cup, the 15th staging of the World Cup, was held in the United States from June 17 to July 17. Colombia was placed in Group A with Romania, USA, and Switzerland. Before the World Cup began however the Colombians found themselves in a problematic situation. Colombia's preparations were conducted against a backdrop of rumors that betting syndicates and drug cartels were exercising their influence over the squad. Coach Francisco Maturana was reported to have received death threats over matters of team selection. Barabas Gomez was dropped from the squad presumebly because of threats, with Hernán Gaviria taking his place.

Whatever the truth, Colombia's players were affected. They looked edgy and unfocused as they suffered a shock 3-1 loss in their opening game against Romania.

Colombia: 1-3 :Romania

June 18, 1994
16:35 PDT
Colombia  1–3  Romania Rose Bowl, Pasadena
Attendance: 91,586
Referee: Jamal Al Sharif (Syria)
Valencia 43' (Report) Răducioiu 15', 89'
Hagi 34'

The match between Colombia and Romania was the first game for either side in the group phase. Colombia began the match well and were allowed a great deal of possession by the Romanians who seemed content to defend in depth. Some of the Colombians football was breathtaking, demonstrating their superior ball play. It seemed as if there was only one team on the pitch. However, against the run of play, Romania took the lead in the 16th minute with their first attack of the match when Florin Raducioiu took on three defenders before firing home a low shot past goalkeeper Oscar Cordoba. The Colombians kept on showing off their dazzling skills and were constantly threatening the equaliser, however on the half hour mark, Gheorghe Hagi made it 2-0 when he noticed Cordoba out of position and dipped a cross over his head into the net. The Colombians had excellent opportunities however the Romanian keeper, Stelea kept the Romanian lead intact with a string of brilliant saves until Valencia pulled a goal back for the Colombians in the 43rd minute when he headed in a corner from Perez. In the second half, The Colombians put the Romanians under a great deal of pressure with Stelea called upon to prevent goal-bound attempts from Asprilla and Alvarez before Florin Raducioiu put the result beyond doubt with his second goal in the final few minutes. Romania won this encounter 3-1, and the Colombians knew victory against USA in their following match would be vital if they were to progress any further.

United States: 2-1 :Colombia

June 22, 1994
16:35 PDT
United States  2–1  Colombia Rose Bowl, Pasadena
Attendance: 93,689
Referee: Fabio Baldas (Italy)
Escobar 35' (OG)
Stewart 52'
(Report) Valencia 90'

Possibly the most crucial game in Group A for Colombia. The USA knew they weren't favorites but played with passion and determination while Colombia was focused on attacking their opponents in order to get an early goal. As the game started off, the Americans put up fierce resistance as Colombia launched several attacks. The Americans survived an early scare when Marcelo Balboa had to clear the ball out of the goal's mouth after goalkeeper Tony Meola had failed to save the shot from Anthony de Avila. Balboa and Alexi Lalas held the creative Colombians at bay in the center of the defense while Earnie Stewart and John Harkes led several counterattacks against Colombia. In the 35th minute, John Harkes crossed the ball towards Earnie Stewart, and it was deflected by the confident Colombian defender Andres Escobar into the net to give the U.S. a shock 1-0 lead. Andres Escobar was stretching out to cut the cross and clear the ball out of the penalty area. Celebrations went wild as the USA took the lead. Colombia continued its attacks while Andres Escobar was determined to repair his error. In the 56th minute, Tab Ramos fired a shot through Colombia’s defense, and Earnie Stewart was there to tap it in past Oscar Cordoba for the 2-0 lead. Even though Adolfo Valencia scored a late goal for Colombia, the U.S. claimed their victory.

Switzerland: 0-2 :Colombia

June 26, 1994
13:05 PDT
Switzerland  0–2  Colombia Stanford Stadium, Palo Alto
Attendance: 83,401
Referee: Peter Mikkelsen (Denmark)
(Report) Gaviria 44'
Lozano 90'

With two defeats in their opening matches, Colombia's only hope to reach the 2nd Round was to defeat Switzerland and hope Romania would lose against the US in order to end in third place due to goal differences. Due to the format of the 1994 World Cup, the four best third-place finishers would advance. A header by Gavaria and a shot by Lozano gave Colombia a 2-0 victory over Switzerland. However, news that Romania had won against the US meant Colombia was out and going home. On July 2, 1994, Escobar was shot outside a bar in a Medellín suburb. According to Escobar's girlfriend, the killer shouted "¡Gooooooooooooool!" (mimicking South American sporting commentators for their calls after a goal is scored) for each of the 12 bullets fired. The murder was widely believed to be a punishment for the own goal scored against the United States.

1994 FIFA World Cup - Group A [Final Standings]

Group A - Final Standings

Team Pts Pld W D L GF GA GD
 Romania 6 3 2 0 1 5 5 0
 Switzerland 4 3 1 1 1 5 4 +1
 United States 4 3 1 1 1 3 3 0
 Colombia 3 3 1 0 2 4 5 -1
USA 1 - 1 Switzerland
Colombia 1 - 3 Romania
Switzerland 4 - 1 Romania
USA 2 - 1 Colombia
Switzerland 0 - 2 Colombia
USA 0 - 1 Romania

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