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25 January 2021

Reinaldo Rueda, the perfect choice for Colombia

Following the Cafeteros’ difficult start to the campaign in the World Cup 2022 qualifiers, the Colombian Football Federation decided to appoint a new head coach : Reinaldo Rueda. A man that we don’t need to present anymore in South America. Focus on the Maurice Revello Tournament 2000 winner.

On last 17th November, Colombians were hammered by Ecuador (1-6) and dropped to seventh place of the World Cup 2022 qualifiers. With only four points earned in as many games played. If it wasn’t official, the departure of the then head coach Carlos Quieroz was in everybody’s mind following the 1-6 drubbing. “Since the loss against Ecuadour, the debate about the new head coach was present in the local medias”, confirmed Pierre Gerbeaud, Colombian football expert for Lucarne Opposée.

One coach stood out from the rest and eventually has been appointed on mid-January : Reinaldo Rueda. Head coach of Chile at the start of these World Cup 2022 qualifiers, the 63-year-old coach has been given handed the Cafeteros job. “He’s the best choice possible according to the local medias in Colombia. Some pundits were not sure about Rueda as Chile, the team he was driving until now, weren’t in a better position than Colombia (Editor’s note : four points as well) in these qualifiers but the dominant opinion is that he’s the ideal pick”, told us Pierre Gerbeaud.

It’s fair to say that the Cali-born has already made a name for himself : participations at both World Cups 2010 and 2014, respectively with Honduras and Ecuador, and above all a trophy-laden spell at Atletico Nacional that allowed him to be recognized as one of the managers in South America. With the Medellin-based club, Rueda won everything : six titles including the prestigious Copa Libertadores in 2016 after an almost perfect campaign (10 wins, 3 draws in 14 games), ending a 27-year wait for the Colombian giants.

Beyond his achievements, this is also his perfect knowledge of the Colombian football that helped him to be appointed as the new head coach of his country. An important consideration as “the Colombian federation wasn’t keen on signing a manager with any South American experience”, reminds us Pierre, the Colombian football specialist for Lucarne Opposée.

During a long time, Rueda coached the Colombia youth teams. With success, like he did during two years in a row at the Maurice Revello Tournament : a title in 2000 followed by a new final in 2001. “Succeeding at the Maurice Revello Tournament during two editions in a row is part of his reputation. He is very respected, nobody will say to you that Rueda doesn’t know how to deal with stars or youngsters”, confirms Pierre Gerbeaud.

Reinaldo Rueda at the Tournoi Maurice Revello, a competition in which he participated three times as a Colombia coach (2000, 2001 et 2003)

His stint at the head of the Colombia senior team between 2004 and 2006, in an almost similar context, is also a point in his favor. “At that moment, Colombia made a terrible start to the campaign (Editor’s note : only one point earned after four games in the World Cup 2006 qualifiers). He helped them to make a good campaign and finish 6th, only one point away from playoffs”, contextualises the Lucarne Opposée specialist. Before adding : “Reinaldo Rueda is the perfect choice. He knows both clubs and players. He knows very well this generation, especially players like David Ospine or Davinson Sanchez”.

The Maurice Revello Tournament 2000 winner, recognized for his ability to manage promising youngsters, will have also the responsibility to rejuvenate partially the team on mid/long term : “He will have to bring youngsters in some positions, notably to replace both Falcao and Cuadrado in the future”, tols us Pierre.

But before that, Rueda needs to have results in the short term. With a very tough test for his first game in charge : the 25th March, Colombia will welcome Brazil, a leader in a stunning form (four games in as many games played).

Amayes Brahmi - 

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