SAO PAULO, June 28 ― Colombia coach Carlos Queiroz said yesterday that champions Chile will be the “favourites” in their Copa America quarter-final.
Colombia stormed through the group stages with the only perfect record that began with a 2-0 victory over Lionel Messi's Argentina.
Reigning back-to-back champions Chile started the competition impressively with a 4-0 thrashing of guests Japan but finished second in their pool following a 1-0 defeat to Uruguay.
Chile “are a team with a lot of history, a great winning tradition, they've done that really well for many years,” said Portuguese boss Queiroz, formerly the Real Madrid coach.
“They have a tough responsibility, they're the reigning champions and the favourites to win the Copa America, like Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil, who are the ones who have the titles,” he added.
Uruguay are the record 15-time winners followed by Argentina with 14 and Brazil on eight.
Chile's only two victories came in the last two editions while Colombia have won only once, on home soil in 2001.
“Winning or growing, that's the option we have for Colombia. The champions are Chile, we came here to grow or learn with them. They have to defend their title.”
Colombia have been the most impressive side in the competition so far, winning their group with a game to spare after beating Qatar 1-0.
Even though Queiroz made 10 changes to his team for the final pool match against Paraguay, they won that 1-0.
But Colombia have a history of disappointing at major tournaments despite boasting the likes of Carlos Valderrama and Faustino Asprilla in the past.
Their best World Cup showing was in 2014 when they lost in controversial circumstances against hosts Brazil in the quarter-finals.
And other than winning the Copa on home soil, they have only ever reached one other final, in 1975.
For a country that has cracked under the pressure several times in the past, Queiroz wants his team to simply enjoy the occasion at Sao Paulo's Corinthians Arena on Friday.
“It's a tough game, we know the responsibility and we all know the importance of a game like this, but we have to make the most of it,” he said.
“They (Chile) also know they will face a Colombia full of desire... we're not going to make things easy for them.”
But he said it's now or never for his team.
“There's no tomorrow, it's not like a group phase game, it's all or nothing for 90 minutes.
“Tomorrow, for sure the team that shows the greatest resistence and resilience is the team that will win.” ― AFP