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World Cup 2014: Dark horses Colombia could surprise

| 07.09.2013

Colombia head into this weekend’s World Cup qualifier at home to Ecuador knowing that a victory at 9/20 could all but secure their place in Brazil next summer.

Los Cafeteros sit second in the South American standings having lost just one of their last seven qualifiers and with third placed Ecuador outsiders for the three points at 6/1 after a run of four games without a win, Colombia’s fine form could continue.

Even a draw at 14/5 would suit the Coffee Growers, who could begin to look towards the World Cup with the South Americans shaping up as dark horses for top honours at the tournament.

On paper Colombia certainly have all the necessary ingredients to mount a challenge in Brazil, with a front line boasting arguably two of the hottest strikers in the world today in Jackson Martinez and Radamel Falcao.

Falcao needs little in the way of an introduction having scored 41 goals in 51 games for Porto before moving to La Liga with Atletico Madrid where he added another 52 goals in 68 appearances prior to his big money move to Monaco.

Martinez meanwhile is still finding his feet, but after 28 goals in 32 games for Porto, the pair have the potential to strike up a lethal partnership. Throw in flamboyant troublemaker Teofilo Gutierrez and fire power should prove little problem.

Allied to this is a squad boasting globally-renowned talent like James Rodriguez of Monaco, Inter Milan’s Fredy Guarin  and Juan Guillermo Cuadrado from Fiorentina.

These players have combined to forge one of the most attacking front lines on the continent with 21 goals in 12 qualifiers – a figure only second to Argentina.

More significantly still, the team boasts the best defensive record in South American qualifying with just seven goals shipped in 12 games with the likes of AC Milan’s Christian Zapata commanding the team’s back line.

Much of this renewed success has been down to the appointment of Jose Pekerman in the managerial hot seat, who has the team playing the kind of passing football that saw him come close to World Cup glory with Argentina in 2006.

Prior to his arrival, Colombia had claimed just one victory from their opening three qualifiers but under Pekerman the Coffee Growers have gradually climbed the qualification standings, growing in confidence with every match.

They now stand on the brink of qualification and with Colombia on at 28/1 to lift the trophy this team could be one to watch.

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Jack Beresford

Jack Beresford is a content writer with over five years of experience in writing about sport and betting, including a two-year spell with Axonn Media. Contributes articles to HereIsTheCity and Lad Bible, while previous credits include Bwin, FTB Pro, Bleacher Report and the QBE rugby. Avid follower of tennis, rugby union, motorsport and football, Jack also writes about poker for Cardspiel.com alongside Guardian journalist Dominic Wells.