In a decision described by José Pekerman as “the saddest day I’ve had since becoming Colombia coach”, “El Tigre” was among the three players cut off the final list of twenty-three players heading to Brazil for soccer’s top tournament.
“The doctors have been very clear: now is not the time for Falcao to return to competition,” said the Argentine-born coach in a press conference alongside the striker on Monday evening.
“Today I am in good physical condition, but I would not want to take away a teammate’s chance to play, nor do anything against my health. I believe that this is the most sensible thing I can do,” Falcao mentioned.
The 28-year-old who triumphed with clubs like River Plate of Buenos Aires and Spain’s Atletico Madrid has not played a game since he suffered an injury in January while playing for Monaco in the French Cup.
Despite the damage he received to his anterior cruciate ligament, Falcao quickly went through surgery and put himself through a demanding rehabilitation in the hopes of recovering in time for the World Cup. Alas, it was not to be though his exclusion from the final squad did not dampen his spirits according to a tweet he published yesterday:
Hoy solo puedo sonreír por haberlo intentado hasta el final. pic.twitter.com/qzDkcT9gyj
— Radamel Falcao (@FALCAO) June 2, 2014
(Translation: “Today I can only smile for having tried until the very end.”)
Speaking of Twitter, numerous Colombian figures have took to the social network to express their support for Falcao including president Juan Manuel Santos, international Faustino Asprilla and cyclists Nairo Quintana and Rigoberto Uran.
Colombia has several viable forward options that will be heading to Brazil such as James Rodriguez, Carlos Bacca, and Adrián Ramos, and the team will benefit from playing in one of the competition’s easier groups. Nevertheless, Falcao was the squad’s top scorer during the qualifying round with nine goals in sixteen matches. Aside from the quantity, the quality of his goals were vital with some of them coming at crucial times such as an injury-time game winner at Bolivia and two goals to cap off a wild comeback against Chile in the final qualifying match.
Falcao joins the growing list of Latin American players who will miss out of the World Cup due to injury such as:
- Falaco's compatriots Luis Fernando Muriel and Amaranto Perea
- Mexico’s Luis Montes and Ecuador’s Segundo Castillo who collided with each other during a friendly match last Saturday
- Chilean midfielder Matías Fernández
- Costa Rican defender Bryan Oviedo
- Ever Banega of Argentina
- Arnold Peralta of Honduras
- Brazilian-born Thiago Alcântara who plays for Spain
Online Sources – The Guardian; SI.com; El Tiempo; Colombia Reports; Goal.com