Fal­cao’s chance to shine for the ‘Cof­fee Mak­ers’

Sunday Times - - Sport | Golf/Russia 2018 -

● Radamel Fal­cao was a no­table ab­sen­tee from the 2014 World Cup when James Ro­driguez’s six-goal haul car­ried Colom­bia to a his­toric quar­ter­fi­nal fin­ish.

Now, at age 32, it is the Monaco striker’s chance to shine. The ques­tion is: can the Colom­bia cap­tain shoul­der the bur­den of re­launch­ing Los Cafeteros (the Cof­fee Mak­ers) af­ter a shock 2-1 de­feat to Ja­pan that has made their fi­nal Group H games against Poland and Sene­gal must-win en­coun­ters?

Colom­bia face Poland in Kazan to­day, and a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive de­feat for Jose Pek­er­man’s tech­ni­cally gifted side would be na­tional dis­as­ter.

“We are forced to win. And we must do ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to win,” Fal­cao said at Colom­bia’s train­ing base in Sviyazhsk just out­side Kazan.

“It’s them or us.”

Cru­elly de­prived of com­pet­ing in Brazil by a hor­rific knee in­jury, Fal­cao watched from the side­lines as James, whose sump­tu­ous vol­ley against Uruguay was voted goal of the tour­na­ment, took Colom­bia on a whirl­wind jour­ney in their first World Cup ap­pear­ance since France ’98.

Four years on and hav­ing re­launched his ca­reer with Monaco af­ter a dis­as­trous spell in Eng­land with Manch­ester United and Chelsea, Fal­cao can show­case the preda­tory tal­ents that steered Atletico Madrid to the Europa League and Span­ish Su­per Cup vic­to­ries in 2012.

Fal­cao scored over 30 goals for Monaco in the 2016-2017 sea­son to help steer the Prin­ci­pal­ity club to the Cham­pi­ons League semi­fi­nals and the Ligue 1 ti­tle, in front of Paris Saint-Ger­main.

Yet Colom­bia’s in­aus­pi­cious start has handed the Sainta Marta na­tive a far big­ger chal­lenge than sim­ply mak­ing amends for his ab­sence in Brazil.

Radamel Fal­cao is out to get a win for Colom­bia.

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