Today, at the Estadio Pedro Bidegain, in Buenos Aires, the Colombian National Football team drew with their opposites from Senegal 2-2 in an extremely unfriendly World Cup tune up, billed as a friendly.
The Colombians, training for the Brazil tournament in coach Jose Peckerma’s home country, were playing without Radamel Falcao who is still recuperating from a serious knee injury operation. The Senegalese playing the South Americans for the first time, seemed intent on showing them up as the young, speedy and athletic team took a six minute second half spurt to even a 2-0 deficit with two fantastic goals.
The game began with a quick-thinking Colombia, playing with most of their starting line-up, taking advantage of their visitors. Gutierez opened the scoring early and the hosts had an advantage at the 11th minute. The goal, assisted by Spanish Football and Sevilla star Carlos Bacca, came off a corner. The Sevilla striker headed the ball down and back to his teammate for the easy put away.
The game had been contested until then but became more so as yellow cards began to be shown. The Colombians still pressed on and as the half came to a close Bacca himself scored a beautiful goal to put his side ahead, 2-0, by halftime.
But as half-time approached news of the serious injuries sustained in other tune up friendlies began to filter into the stadium and the announcers began to relay the information in their broadcasts. One by one, news of the Mexican loss of Luis Montes, Italy’s loss of Riccardo Montolivo, and Ecuador’s loss of Segundo Castillo, on the same play that injured Montes, were shared in detail and analyzed in terms of their respective teams’ losses just prior to the World Cup.
Pekerman, either by design or in reaction to the news, took out a number of his key players for the complementary half and Senegal did the same.
The second half was, strangely, just as intense, particularly given the fact that there had been wholesale substitutions, that the injury news was providing a cautionary note, and that it was supposed to be a friendly tune up for Colombia.
The give and take, in terms of possession, good and rough play and intensity, continued from the moment the half got under way. The Senegalese, intent on evening the score, went on attack and the Colombian defense, now missing key central defenders began to waver.
At the 47th Senegal’s mKonate hit a perfect mid-range strike that flew past the Colombian keeper and exploded in the nets.
Five minutes later Ndoye had another beautiful long-range shot find the net for a tie game and the beginning of a more intense period of play. The roughness continued even after players for both sides were taken out due to injury.
At the 67th minute Senegal’s Seck received his second yellow and was sent off. Yet the rough play continued and the last yellow was handed out at the 90th plus one to N’Diaye.
By game’s end Senegal could leave knowing their young team has promise and a bright future ahead of it. Pekerman, was left to ponder a few things. First, how dependent he is upon his veteran defenders to keep the opposition at bay. Second, that even without Falcao Colombia has scoring options. Third, that tonight, up a man for the better part of the second half, they were unable to find the clinching score. Finally, he would note that his aging team can still turn it up a notch, as they did at the beginning of the game, and in so doing could decide a tough match early. Not a bad series of observations to leave with from a single game where his side allowed a younger, less experience team, catch up.