It’s a long road to the World Cup, especially for players. Qualifying is a brutal process and at times, it’s these matches that are remembered the most.
CGTN’s Michelle Begue looks back at one of the most famous.
In 1993, Argentina was set to play Colombia in the last day of qualifying matches for the FIFA World Cup. If Argentina lost, it would have to play in the intercontinental playoff against Australia.
But Argentina couldn’t lose. They were playing at home at the Monumental stadium, and they had a six-year winning streak on home soil.
Even the great Argentinian player Diego Armando Maradona who had since retired, was quoted as saying a Colombian couldn’t win against Argentina. He said history showed that Argentina was on top and Colombia was behind.
“For us, it ended up being a taunt that helped us give 110-percent of us to show that history can be rewritten, all you need is the will to go out onto the field and confidence that you can do it,” Colombian goalkeeper Oscar Cordoba said.
Despite insults and slander by the Argentinian fans, the first goal by Colombian Freddy Rincon was a dream. But Argentina still had a chance to tie the game until a surprising second goal came in the first five minutes of the second half.
Colombia could go home happy with a stellar performance, until the unimaginable happened: a third goal. Colombians were flying high above the Argentinians, and within the next 13 minutes history was made. Colombia scored two more times, bringing the grand total to 5 versus 0.
“With the third goal we knew we were going to the World Cup, and you lose control, the narration, the diction, are completely lost and you enter an emotional state, for the fourth and fifth goal I barely had a voice,” recalled Colombian Football Journalist William Vinasco.
The Colombian goalkeeper was Oscar Cordoba. At 23 years-old, he was playing the game of his life. He blocked two goal attempts from Argentinian player Gabriel Batistuta.
“I think the previous preparation in the Americas Cup in Ecuador and how we were playing in the elimination gave me the tranquility to know that we were well prepared and that I was supported by a great team, and nothing was going to affect me on that field,” Cordoba said.
By the end of the game, even Maradona stood up and applauded Colombia’s powerful win.
“Colombia went crazy, it was probably one of the most important sports moments in our history, and our team began to win the hearts of the Americas, and that was our international take off of our players,” Vinasco said.
Football has come a long way since Colombia’s winning streak. Now a new generation of players led by James Rodriguez is forging its way into history as the world watches.