Colombia arrived at the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand as an attractive team that aroused enthusiasm: after an outstanding performance in the 2022 Copa America, the mix of leading national soccer players, such as Catalina Usme and Daniela Montoya, with new talents such as Linda Caicedo and Leicy Santos, set expectations high. On Monday, the team responded to that enthusiasm by defeating South Korea 2-0 in their Group H debut at the Australia-New Zealand Women’s World Cup.
Coach Nelson Abadia opted for a regular formation with four defenders, two holding midfielders, one setter, two wingers and one attacker for the game played at the Sydney stadium. The first 30 minutes of the game passed between the persistent attempts of an incisive South Korea with shots from the side, shots from outside the area and the search for rebounds, and a Colombia that tried unsuccessfully to string together collective plays that did not prosper, almost always due to some imprecision in the passes. But in a series of shots by the Colombians, who were beginning to approach the rival goal, a shot that was going towards the goal collided inside the area with the arm that a South Korean defender had separated from her body. The British referee Rebecca Welch did not hesitate to whistle the penalty.
Catalina Usme coldly deceived goalkeeper Yoon and scored the first goal of the game, her second in the seven matches she has played in World Cups. Then the panorama changed for Colombia. The inaccuracies began to disappear, the team became more confident and focused, and soon the score went up again. In the 39th minute, Linda Caicedo, who until then had shown a more collective attitude and had tried to associate with her teammates rather than highlight her skills, received the ball in midfield and launched an attack down the left flank. She dodged the opponents who tried to block her and launched a high shot that seemed easy for the goalkeeper to control, who slipped the ball from her hands to cross the goal line.
In the second half, Colombia kept insisting to increase the score, often using crosses from the side to look for the head of Mayra Ramirez, the tallest on the team. Her attempts to reach the rival goal had much more security, enthusiasm and used various resources. Apart from the Colombian attackers, always in the spotlight, goalkeeper Catalina Perez stood out for her safety when she had to intervene, almost always accompanied by effective support from Manuela Vanegas in defense. The South Koreans kept order and tried to build attack plays, without success: the showiness they had at the beginning of the game was overshadowed by the Colombians, who maintained control and superiority until the end of the game.
Colombia’s next match in the Women’s World Cup will be against Germany, on Sunday the 30th at 4:30 p.m. (Colombian time). The European team hung the label of favorite to fight for the title on Monday morning, beating Morocco 6-0. A combination of failures by the African players with the virtues and power of the Germans, especially in the air, led to a large score that put the runners-up in Europe as partial leaders of group H. Colombia’s last match in the group stage will be against Morocco, on August 3 at 5:00 in the morning.
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Source: EL PAIS