Colombia vs. Soviet Union, Chile 1962: Above, left to right: Carlos Cuellar (Secretary and Treasurer), Rolando Serrano, Oscar Lopez, Efraín “Cayman” Sanchez, Jaime “Charrol” Gonzalez, Aníbal Alzate, Hector “Canochem” Echevery Corial Rubio (Head of the delegation. Below: Hermann “Coca” Eros, Marcos Cole, Antonio Rada, Marino Klinger and Hector “Ziba” Gonzalez.
Photo: Courtesy World Soccer
For the World Cup in Chile, FIFA decided to exclude Colombia, Peru and Bolivia from the third group for South America, but due to the resignation of the latter selected, due to problems between their leaders, the series was held only twice. The confrontation against the Incas. It was, however, an almost impossible task, due to the history between the two teams. Those who wore the red ribbon on their chest just put on a great show at the 1959 Copa America, where they tied with Brazil and beat Uruguay.
A day like today, but in 1962, Colombia played their first World Cup finals in Chile.
Six decades have passed and our identity is still unclear. Our football style is based on the epic stories that built our football history. https://t.co/lqcRQPFlRo
– Sports viewer (DeportesEE) May 30, 2022
In the previous three official duels, Peru beat Colombia 4-1, 4-0, 4-1, so it’s likely that you’ve entered the match with confidence. On April 30, 1961, El Campin was full for the first leg, in which the team led by Maestro Adolfo Pedernera won 1-0, Eusebio Escobar scored, before a pass from Delio “Maravilla” Gamboa. The rematch was in Lima, on May 7. They were barely three minutes into the match when the Inca came up on the scoreboard with a penalty that Faustino Delgado converted into a goal.
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The historic and unexpected qualifying goal came in the second half, in the 69th minute, when Hector “Ziba” Gonzalez scored a cross from Herman “Coca” Aseros to defeat goalkeeper Fernando Carpina. The National Stadium, not as full as El Campín, because the visitor was not an attractive competitor, was silent. Then, the hum in the stands added to the tension of the Incas, who could not find their way to the goal.
In Colombia, the news met with disbelief when it was announced on the radio. Peruvian football was having a good time and had international status, so a couple of hours passed before the official confirmation. The situation was so foreign to our players and leaders that they did not take seriously the preparations for the World Cup, in which only three friendlies were played, against Mexico and Costa Rica, and Bango of Brazil.
The national delegation traveled to Arica, the headquarters of their group, which also included Uruguay, the Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia. Intriguingly, in the first match against Charras, on May 30, 1962, Colombia took the lead after 19 minutes, thanks to a penalty kick scored by Francisco “Cobo” Zuluaga, the first three-color goal in a World Cup. Of course, later, the two-time champion turned the score and won the goals of Luis Copila and Jose Sassia.
The first show in Chile wasn’t bad, but the biggest challenge was coming, the strong Soviet team. Unfortunately, Dele “Maravilla” Gamboa, one of the characters of the national team, was injured against Uruguay and could no longer play in the tournament. After 12 minutes the Europeans had already won 3-0 and a disaster was expected. However, a goal came from Hermann “Koka” Aceros that calmed the momentum of the competitors and encouraged our team.
On May 30, 1962, Colombia played their first World Cup match.
The sequel began Soviet Target IV, but given the circumstances the show seemed worthy. However, Pedernera told his children to calm down, that they had nothing left to lose, to try to play longer and have fun. And they really did, especially after Marcus Cole scored the second goal from a corner kick, in a move in which a defender covering the near post allowed the ball to pass thinking goalkeeper Ley Yashin would take it, but the goalkeepers trusted his partner to refuse and failed to respond.
Antonio “Toño” Rada and Marino Klinger later completed the Colombian feat, which we would live on for the next 28 years, those that gave rise to memes at the time, and jokes from people who started saying that CCCP (the acronym that defined the USSR) Which competitors wore on their chests, meant “With Colombia we almost lost.”
The choice elicited worldwide praise and in a few days its players were considered heroes. But then the storm came. When their good form was expected to be ratified, they lost 5-0 to Yugoslavia Vladimir Popovic and Dragoslav Sikolarac, a bitter goodbye after two very good performances.
However, this experience meant introducing Colombian football to the world, other than the fact that at the time there was very little publicity for the event. What no one imagined was that there would be six disappointing qualifiers, some fewer than others, and the team wasn’t even close to qualifying. Until Francisco Maturana and our first golden generation of football arrived to take us to Italy, in 1990, when the whole country, thanks to the development of communications, enjoyed the championship there as it had not been able to in 28 years.
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