BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Colombia striker Radamel Falcao has failed to recover from knee surgery and was left out of their World Cup squad on Monday, coach Jose Pekerman announced.
The 28-year-old ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee while playing for Monaco in a French Cup match in January. Falcao, nicknamed Tiger, was a key element of the Colombia squad that finished second to Argentina in the South American qualifying group, scoring nine goals in 13 matches.
Experienced defender Luis Amaranto Perea, who has been recovering from injury, and forward Luis Muriel also missed the cut from Pekerman's provisional squad.
"I had lots of hopes but, well, we've got to press on and support the team from the outside and wish all my team mates the best for a good World Cup," Falcao, sitting next to Pekerman at Colombia's training base outside Buenos Aires, said at a media conference.
"Today, I'm in very good shape but conscious that I still need a bit (more time) to play again and I didn't want to deny a place to a team mate who was 100 percent fit, nor do something imprudent to damage my health."
The team's talisman was the player that Pekerman could least afford to lose as his side feature this month at their first finals for 16 years. Colombia face Greece, Ivory Coast and Japan in Group C in Brazil later this month.
Goalkeepers: David Ospina (Nice), Faryd Mondragon (Deportivo Cali), Camilo Vargas (Independiente Santa Fe)
Defenders: Mario Yepes (Atalanta), Cristian Zapata (AC Milan), Pablo Armero (West Ham United), Camilo Zuniga (Napoli), Santiago Arias (PSV Eindhoven), Eder Alvarez Balanta (River Plate), Carlos Valdes (San Lorenzo)
Midfielders: Fredy Guarin (Inter Milan), Juan Cuadrado (Fiorentina), Victor Ibarbo (Cagliari), James Rodriguez (Monaco), Abel Aguilar (Toulouse), Juan Quintero (Porto), Carlos Sanchez (Elche), Aldo Leao Ramirez (Morelia), Alexander Mejia (Atletico Nacional)
Forwards: Jackson Martinez (Porto), Carlos Bacca (Sevilla), Teofilo Gutierrez (River Plate), Adrian Ramos (Hertha Berlin)
Reporting by Luis Ampuero, writing by Rex Gowar, editing by Tony Jimenez/Greg Stutchbury