Host nation Colombia ready for the U20s World Cup.
An introduction to each of the competing nations in the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Colombia later this month, starting with the host team...
FIFA U20 World Cup
29 July - 20 August 2011
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By Samuel Philip Steinbock
After a disappointing performance in this year's South American U20 Championship in Peru, Los Cafeteros go into their seventh FIFA U-20 World Cup charged with proving their performance in Peru was a mere blip.
They finished bottom of the standings in the six-team final round with one win, three draws and five defeats as their overall record at the continental competition, so this crop of Colombian hopefuls will need more than just home advantage to follow the example of the class of 2005 - winners of that year's Sudamericano as host nation.
Wigan striker Hugo Rodallega and Porto striker Radamel Falcao were part of that successful Colombia side and manager Eduardo Lara will be hoping his team can emulate the success of six years ago.
Since making their FIFA U-20 World Cup debut at USSR 1985, Colombia have amassed a total of six appearances at the showpiece competition. Their best performance was in Saudi Arabia where they finished third.
At Netherlands 2005, during current coach Eduardo Lara's first spell at the helm and fresh from winning the U-20 Sudamericano, Colombia had the misfortune to cross paths with eventual winners Argentina and star man Lionel Messi in the Round of 16.
The country's podium finish at UAE 2003 is an example of what can be achieved and Lara is hoping the more experienced players, Edwin Cardona and Michael Ortega, can lead Colombia to glory.
Only two teams have won the tournament as the host nation and a key question is if Colombia can repeat that feat, achieved previously by Portugal in 1991 and Argentina ten years later.