Colombia are far from content with a fairytale run to their first Women’s World Cup quarter-final, and see England as their next heavyweight victims following their take-down of Germany during the group phase.
Riding a wave of raucous support from Colombian fans, the South Americans broke through Jamaica’s defensive wall in a 1-0 victory in Melbourne on Tuesday to set up a ground-breaking clash against the European champions on Saturday.
World number 25 Colombia are by far the lowest ranked among the quarter-finalists but captain Catalina Usme insists they can go all the way.
“We came here to play seven finals, we are prepared for this,” Usme, who scored the winner against Jamaica, told reporters.
“We are dreaming big, we can do this. I am extremely proud to be part of this team, both in our sporting play and our mentality,” she added. “We will take on England head-to-head and give our all.”
Former finalists Brazil are usually the top South American team at the tournament but Colombia have stolen their thunder.
Brazil, who beat Colombia in the final of last year’s Copa America — the continental championship — have already gone home after being tipped out of the group phase by the Jamaicans.
Colombia failed to qualify for the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France but have been building for the current showpiece for years by investing in youth.
The fruit of that investment was on show in the last-16 clash against Jamaica as coach Nelson Abadia picked 18-year-olds Linda Caicedo and Ana Maria Guzman in his starting 11.
Real Madrid forward Caicedo may be the best young player in the women’s game right now, while Guzman had a dream World Cup debut, setting up Usme’s goal with a long cross that landed at the captain’s feet in the area.
“We’ve been going step by step,” said Abadia.
“England are European champions, but we beat Germany, the second best team. We were wise enough and had composure.
“We will face England with composure. It will be a tough game, but those situations make us pull together.”
Legions of yellow-clad supporters have given Colombia a huge boost at each of their games, and they were in full voice in Melbourne, drowning out the Jamaican fans’ support.
Belting out songs and booing the Jamaican players whenever they laid on a heavy tackle, the fans made it like a home game, remarked one of the Colombian players.
Saturday’s quarter-final at Stadium Australia should produce another electric atmosphere, pitting the Colombian supporters against Sydney’s big community of English immigrants and expats.
Abadia said Colombian fans’ excitement was justified.
“Yes, we have been captivating the fans with the way we play,” he said.
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