Colombia penpix of likely squad for World Cup finals

BOGOTA Mon Apr 28, 2014 2:57pm IST

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombia's squad for the World Cup finals is likely to comprise the following 23 players.

Goalkeepers:

David Ospina (Nice) Age 25; 36 caps. Very good keeper on his line, who began his career with Atletico Nacional and became the youngest player to win the Colombian league title, aged 18, in 2007. Moved to France in 2008.

Faryd Mondragon (Deportivo Cali). Age 42; 54 caps. Turning 43 on June 21, he could become the oldest player at a World Cup finals in Brazil if he plays. Was in Colombia's squad at the 1994 and 1998 finals and is the only player to have had a part in six qualifying campaigns (1994-2014 World Cups).

Camilo Vargas (Independiente Santa Fe). Age 25; 0 caps. Has been called up 15 times but has yet to make his debut.

Defenders:

Pablo Armero (West Ham United). Age 27; 50 caps. Left-back who enjoys coming forward and taking long-distance shots at goal. Played in Brazil for Palmeiras and Italy with Udinese and Napoli before moving to the Premier League in January.

Camilo Zuniga (Napoli). Age 28; 48 caps. Right-back with similar attacking instincts to Armero, who joined Napoli from Siena and helped them win the Coppa Italia in 2012.

Cristian Zapata (AC Milan). Age 27; 22 caps. Right-back with experience in Spain at Villarreal and Italy, where he first played for Udinese.

Luis Amaranto Perea (Cruz Azul). Age 35; 73 caps. Younger member of a very experienced centre-back partnership with Mario Yepes, who played for Boca Juniors before spending eight seasons at Atletico Madrid, helping them win the Europa League twice.

Mario Yepes (Atalanta). Age 38; 96 caps. Like former Colombia striker Juan Pablo Angel and Radamel Falcao, the team captain cut his teeth at River Plate. He arrived in Italy via Nantes and Paris St Germain, where he earned the nickname 'Super Mario'. Spent two seasons at AC Milan but left to secure regular football before the World Cup, after which he will retire.

Santiago Arias (PSV Eindhoven). Age 22; 4 caps. Right-back who caught the eye of Sporting at the Under-20 World Cup in Colombia in 2011 and played in Portugal until his move to PSV last year.

Eder Alvarez Balanta (River Plate). Age 21; 1 cap. Central defender with a brilliant future. In his short time in the River Plate first team since his debut in the Argentine first division in April 2013, has shown maturity beyond his years with great anticipation and attacking instincts that have had River coach Ramon Diaz comparing him with former captain Daniel Passarella. Won his only cap as a substitute against Tunisia in March

Midfielders:

Fredy Guarin (Inter Milan). Age 27; 50 caps. The former Boca Juniors and St Etienne winger was linked to a player exchange deal with Juventus midfielder Mirko Vucinic that did not come off in January. He has since signed a contract extension with Inter.

Juan Cuadrado (Fiorentina). Age 26; 28 caps. Has lots of pace that helps him play tirelessly from box to box and beat players on runs with the ball. Celebrates his goals with a variety of dance moves.

Abel Aguilar (Toulouse). Age 29; 45 caps. First-choice holding midfielder who spent the better part of his European career in Spain, at first on loan from Udinese, before moving to France last year.

Carlos Sanchez (Elche). Age 28; 43 caps. Holding midfielder nicknamed 'The Rock' who began his career in Montevideo with Danubio then played for the small Uruguayan River Plate and fetched up last year at promoted Spanish side Elche via Valenciennes in Ligue 1.

Edwin Valencia (Fluminense). Age 29; 9 caps. All-round defensive player who left America de Cali for Atletico Paranaense in Brazil, where he spent three seasons before moving to Rio de Janeiro's Fluminense, whom he helped win the Brazilian championship in 2010 and 2012.

Macnelly Torres (Al Shabab, Saudi Arabia). Age 29; 38 caps. Given first name by his father after a U.S. baseball star. Move from Cucuta in Colombia to Colo Colo for $2.4 million was a Chilean record transfer fee and he helped new club win two league titles. Moved to Saudi Arabia from Mexico's San Luis last year.

Juan Quintero (Porto). Age 21; 3 caps. Small attacking midfielder who has been likened to Lionel Messi, he helped Colombia win their third South American Under-20 title in 2013.

James Rodriguez (Monaco). Age 22; 21 caps. Gifted attacking midfielder who helped modest Banfield win their maiden Argentine league title as a teenager in 2009. Linked up with Falcao at club level first at Porto and then in multi-million deals that took the pair to Monaco.

Forwards:

Radamel Falcao (Monaco). Age 28; 49 caps. Colombia's top player and a prolific goalscorer, recovering from knee ligament surgery that might still keep him out of the tournament although he is given a good chance of making it. Has scored 20 goals, including nine in the qualifiers for these finals. Has won trophies with River Plate, Porto and Atletico Madrid.

Teofilo Gutierrez (River Plate). Age 29; 24 caps. Falcao's strike partner. His tally of 11, seven in the qualifiers, is a better goals return than with Racing Club and now River. Religious, controversial and hot-headed, he pulled a realistic-looking toy gun on team mates in the Racing changing room after being sent off in 2012. He never played for Racing again.

Jackson Martinez (Porto). Age 27; 26 caps. Another of the Colombians so popular with Porto where he arrived from Chiapas of Mexico when Falcao moved to Atletico Madrid. Has eight international goals.

Carlos Bacca (Sevilla). Age 27; 9 caps. Striker who began his career with Atletico Junior in Barranquilla on the northern Caribbean coast where Colombia play their home matches. Joined Sevilla last year after a season with Club Bruges.

Luis Muriel (Udinese). Age 23; 5 Caps. Strong dribbler, he is another of the many Colombians who have begun their Serie A careers in Italy at Udinese with loan spells at Granada in Spain and Serie B side Lecce. Voted best young player in Serie A in 2012.

(Compiled by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Rex Gowar in Buenos Aires; Editing by John O'Brien)

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