Team: Columbia

FIFA Ranking: 8

Nickname: Los Cafeteros

Like their Chilean counterparts, Columbia endured a poor start to their World Cup qualifications, losing coach Leonel Alvarez. Brazil will be Columbia’s first World Cup appearance since France 1998.

The Colombians’ second place in the qualifiers was their highest-ever finish since the introduction of the current qualifying system.

FIFA World Cup history

Apart from the Italy 1990 Round of 16 achievement, Columbia has never went past the group stages of a FIFA World Cup.

With four World Cup appearances, Columbia has only managed two wins in their World Cup history.

Key players:

Falcao

Teo Gutierrez

Mario Yepes

Luis Perea

Coach: Jose Nestor Pekerman

Pekerman rose to fame after being chosen as coach of the Argentinean youth team and went on to win the World Championships in Qatar (1995), Malaysia (1997) and Argentina (2001).

In 2003 he turned down an offer to coach the Argentinean national team but finally accepted in September 2004 after the death of then-coach Marcelo Bielsa.

He is known for his professionalism, modesty, and leadership.

Colombia is culturally diverse with influences from Spanish and African cultures. It also has influences from Europeans living in the country. The country is named after Italian explorer and navigator Christopher Columbus who was born in 1451. Columbus travelled extensively with the aim of finding Asia. He is famous for discovering the New World. Colombia is one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America. According to a study conducted by the World Bank the country’s economy is expected to reach 4.3% between 2014 and 2016. The report indicates that the country is one of the most attractive countries to invest in Latin America. The report places the country in fourth place in the highest growing economies.

In 2013 Colombia led the growth rates in Latin America with its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growing by 5.1% in the last quarter of the year. The country has the lowest interest rate. The country’s economy is driven by construction and agriculture.

There is a rise of the production of coffee, cereals, potatoes, bananas, flowers, and sugarcane among others. Colombia has produced some of the famous novelists including Gabriel Garcia Marquez who won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1982. The country is also known for its world acclaimed artists, art museums and architecture. Drugs have been a problem for years in the South American country. The country has been a leading cocaine producer since the 1970. It is home to some of the most sophisticated drug traffickers in the world.

The government is currently working with the main rebel group to address drugs trade in the country. The two have signed an agreement to combat the social ill. Another challenge the country is facing is inequality. People living in rural areas still live in abject poverty. The number of people living in poverty in rural people increased to 22.8% in 2012. There is still a vast gap between the rich and the poor in the country.

The new President will be faced with the responsibility of addressing these challenges. Presidential are currently taking place in the country. The two leading candidates former financial minister Juan Manuel Santos Oscar Ivan Zuluaga and incumbent president Juan Manuel Santos fell short of 50% needed to avoid a second round. The two will go head to head on June 16.

• Full name: Republic of Colombia
• Population: 47.5 million (UN, 2012)
• Capital: Bogota
• Area: 1.14 million sq km (440,831 sq miles)
• Major language: Spanish
• Major religion: Christianity
• Life expectancy: 70 years (men), 78 years (women) (UN)
• Monetary unit: 1 Colombian peso = 100 centavos
• Main exports: Petroleum, coffee, coal, gold, bananas, cut flowers, chemicals, emeralds, cotton products, sugar, livestock

– By Tshepo Tsheole and Lerato Matlala