Tag Archives: Colombia 2017 Sudamericano Sub-20

Colombia – Top Talents at the 2017 Under-20 South American Youth Championship

The 2017 Under-20 South American Youth Championship took place in Ecuador from 18 January until 11 February. @DarrenSpherical watched all 35 games, writing reports for each encounter that detailed all the significant moments by the most talented players that were spotted. This article focuses on the most notable starlets found in the ranks of Colombia, who progressed in 2nd from Group A but finished 6th (last) in the final group stage (also known as the Hexagonal) and thus will not be going to the Under-20 World Cup. Before browsing below, it may be advisable to have a look at the final standings, results and goalscorers here and/or read the main reference guide published on this website, which features details on dozens of players, with every one of the ten participating nations represented. 

(All photographs are credited to GettyImages)

colombia Colombia

Tournament Summary

In Group A, Carlos Restrepo’s men stuttered to begin with and had a memorable setback in the second game when they gave away their lead to lose 4-3 to Ecuador, but they had nevertheless shown a lot of potential along the way and ultimately progressed after winning their last two games. However, they collapsed in the Hexagonal, frequently lacking in ambition or desire; perhaps the morale-sapping concession of a last-minute goal in the defeat against Argentina didn’t help as they followed this up by being swatted aside 3-0 by both Uruguay and Ecuador. Ultimately, they finished bottom with two points and, partly as a consequence of being so off the pace as much as there being no obvious second choice, have thus only been allocated one star man here. Complaints to the usual address, please.

To view highlights as well as read more about how Colombia got on and who stood out in each game, click here

Top Talent

juanhernandez

Juan Camilo Hernández (Attacking-midfielder, No. 10, América de Cali, on loan from Granada, Spain)

A 17-year-old creative attacker who made his debut at 15 and who has already played over 50 professional club games, scoring an outstanding 20 goals in 33 league games last season. That was all for second-tier Deportivo Pereira, where his exploits came to the attention of the intrepid scouting network of La Liga’s Granada, who have owned him since September and have ordained for him to now go on loan back home to newly-promoted giants  América de Cali.

It’s because of his age, prodigious potential and drive that he has been highlighted as Colombia’s most noteworthy player. Indeed, particularly in the latter stages, it often seemed like he was his country’s main forward threat, being the most likely source of a through-ball, a pin-point cross or a sudden shot from range. Yet, with many of his team-mates faltering and putting in some rather limp performances in the Hexagonal, some observers did comment that it may be a bit much to place so much hope in someone so youthful.

Despite this, though his colleagues were sometimes not on the same page and, perhaps as a consequence, he would try to make things happen unaided, Hernández kept his head higher than most, seemingly unfazed by the role he largely fashioned for himself. In terms of concrete contributions, he drew the foul to win the penalty against Venezuela in the first Hexagonal match and then stepped up himself to convert for a draw. In the following encounter against Argentina he got his side on level terms from a knock-on that he beat the goalkeeper to in order to head home. He was also credited with an assist for the first goal against Ecuador in the opening stage, though the real praise goes to the goalscorer as this consisted merely of a chested pass before Damir Ceter struck a fine shot from 25 yards.

As noted, he could have had at least a couple more assists but it’s also true that there were perhaps two shooting opportunities he should have done better from. Nevertheless, there’s certainly a good chance of hearing more of ‘El Cucho‘, a nickname he’s had since a child as, with a shaved head, his appearance would be compared to ex-Argentina international, Esteban ‘Cuchu’ Cambiasso.

colombia More Colombian Talents

For someone who only played in the opening two group games before succumbing to an injury, striker Damir Ceter (No. 9, Santa Fe) may be receiving undue prominence here. However, with no clear candidate to highlight after Hernández, his significance is owing to the intertwined facts that not only did he score twice in his short spell in the tournament, but without him or another decent target man, the work of Colombia’s roaming attacking-midfielders often petered out or was squandered. Indeed, with no goals in six outings, Michael Nike Gómez (No. 11, Envigado), also known as ‘Mike Nike’, struggled to convince and won’t be appearing in any globally transmitted sportswear adverts any time soon.

As if to further emphasise how different things may have been, Ceter actually came on as a substitute for Gómez in the opening game with Paraguay and though he did miss a clear opportunity, he also nudged home the last-minute equaliser. In the subsequent helter-skelter match against Ecuador, he scored a bona fide golazo as, early on, Hernández chested back to him and he struck brilliantly past the goalkeeper from 25 yards. Admittedly, he should probably have scored later on in the half when he again saw a one-on-one chance stopped, though a team-mate did at least slide home the rebound to double the lead. Perhaps, if he hadn’t got injured, he would’ve also frustrated and jaded those playing him in from behind. However, given his two goals in less than 120 minutes of play, plus his club record last season of 14 goals in 25 games for second-tier Deportes Quindío, one is keen to believe that his presence would’ve been a rather welcome asset. A promising top-flight season with new club Santa Fe hopefully awaits.


Aside from Hernández, perhaps the most promising other attacking-midfielder who could have benefited from having Ceter make runs was Ever Valencia (No. 13, Wisła Kraków, on loan from Independiente Medellín). He actually managed to score three goals himself, all in the opening group stage: the first against Ecuador was a somewhat fortuitous tap-in at the back post which involved two bites at the cherry; the second, a late winner against Brazil, was from a free-kick at an angle and probably wasn’t intended as a shot, but it surprised everyone as it took a slight deflection to bypass the goalkeeper; the third, against Chile, was more of his own doing, as he jinked forward, encroaching upon a reserved defence, before casually sliding his strike into the back of the net. In the Hexagonal, however, his main contribution was playing in the free-kick against Argentina which was knocked into Hernández’s path for the goal. Indeed, though he wasn’t afraid to get some shots away and put in some decent free-kicks, he and those positioned in the same line as him struggled to convert their nice interplay into goals. It was a pity, as some promise had been displayed by these players, such as Jorge Obregón (No. 19, Unión Magdalena), who chalked up a goal and an assist in the opening group stage.

Nevertheless, the competition has at least led to a move for Valencia: he played last season for Independiente Medellín, yet somewhat curiously was officially announced as a new signing by Atlético Bucaramanga just before the tournament began, though it’s debatable as to whether he was ever their player as he’s now been announced as a loanee for Poland’s Wisła Kraków.


Otherwise, even whilst taking into account the final-day thwarting of Brazil, given the side’s meek 3-0 capitulations to both Ecuador and Uruguay in the Hexagonal, not to mention the 4-3 defeat by Ecuador in the opening stage, one is reluctant to give much credit to their defence-minded players. Indeed, there was a bit of pre-tournament hype for captain and defensive-midfielder Kevin Balanta (No. 8, Deportivo Cali), who actually played for the senior team 18 months ago in a friendly featuring top overseas players and who has also started regularly at club level. However, whilst it shouldn’t be ignored that he could have had two decent assists had Hernández shown more composure and he could have had a goal himself had he not fluffed a header from a good position, with zero goals in over 45 club games, attacking clearly isn’t his main forte. That would instead be the ability to snuff out danger as well as protect the back four and thus, though he certainly looked like an impressive physical specimen, he could hardly be said to have patrolled the midfield well.


Balanta’s usual partner-in-crime (and captain when he wasn’t on the field), Eduard Atuesta (No. 20, Independiente Medellín), received some admiring glances in the opening stage and was able to get forward more, striking two shots from distance against the post. Defensively, it’s interesting to note that he was substituted off after Ecuador made it 2-2 in the initial defeat and he missed the 3-0 reversal against Uruguay altogether; however, though he sometimes impressed, he did also play with Balanta in the latter 3-0 defeat against Ecuador and managed to get sent off two minutes after coming off the bench against Argentina. The jury’s out on this pair; much more observation shall be required.


Lastly, a very quick word or two for the full-backs, who also had a mixed time defensively, but who displayed some promise early on and can’t be outright dismissed. Indeed, particularly in the opening game against Paraguay, left-back Anderson Arroyo (No. 5, Fortaleza), impressed with his frequent bustles up the flank, even hitting the post at one point. Given that he reportedly went on trial at Liverpool in July 2016,  is 17 years old and appears to have been playing two years in advance of himself for a while now (he also featured in most of the games at the 2015 Under-17 Sudamericano), it may be worth remembering his name. His counterpart on the right, Leyser Chaverra (No. 15, Universitario Popayán), was spotted going forward a little more as the tournament wore on; domestically, he has played, in total, over 60 club games, albeit in the second-tier.


If you would like to read about the best talents from the other nations, then click on the following links: UruguayEcuador, Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil The Best of the Early Departees (Paraguay, Chile, Bolivia & Peru). All of this information is also contained in this mammoth Reference Guide.   

Darren Spherical

@DarrenSpherical

Colombia 0-0 Brazil (Hexagonal Group Stage, Matchday 5, 2017 Sudamericano Sub-20, 11 February 2017)

The second game which took place on the final Hexagonal Matchday of the 2017 U-20 South American Youth Championship saw Colombia face Brazil, with the latter needing a win to progress to the World Cup. Below are video highlights, a brief summary of the game and, most importantly, @DarrenSpherical‘s armchair talent-spotting… 

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(Source: Wikipedia)

Colombia 0-0 Brazil

CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Hexagonal Group Stage, 11 February 2017 (YouTube)

Perhaps it was their fitness levels, perhaps it was their lack of teamwork and/or ability, but whatever it was, Brazil did not have enough of it and thus will not be going to the Under-20 World Cup. With just one point in four games, Colombia – who rested some notable players – appeared to be there for the taking, but Brazil were unable to find a way through and, despite some first-half attempts, seemed almost resigned to their fate from a relatively premature stage. Overall, the closest they came to a goal was a first-half header from Richarlison in space, which was well-blocked by Colombian goalkeeper Luis García. Their opponents may not have offered much going forward but they didn’t need to and thus Brazil will not be attending the tournament that they have won five times in the past.

Talent Spotting

colombia Colombia

With Juan ‘El Cucho’ Hernández (No. 10, América de Cali, on loan from Granada, Spain) and Ever Valencia (No. 13, Atlético Bucaramanga) starting on the bench, it was evident from the start that there was not likely to be many forward forays from the already eliminated side. Instead, it proved to be a rare moment for the defence to shine and frustrate as, with perhaps the exception of one or two chances, they rarely allowed Brazil a good sight of goal. Given that they had already beaten their opponents 1-0 in the first group stage, perhaps more people should have seen this result coming.

The handful of times that they knocked the ball vaguely in the direction of the opposition goal were largely the result of long range shots from the likes of substitute Hernández and a couple from Julián Quiñones (No. 7, Tigres, Mexico). Their best chance came in the 43rd minute when a decent quick-paced move ended with a nudge into the path of Jorge Obregón (No. 19, Unión Magdalena) just inside the area, though his poked effort was easy for the goalkeeper to stop.

That was all that they had to say for themselves. One can not help but feel that their campaign would have turned out quite differently had striker Damir Ceter (two goals in two games) not been injured early on in the tournament, as they undoubtedly have some talented supporting attackers in their squad.

brazilflag Brazil

They needed to win and, though with less intensity than Argentina against Venezuela, they did go for it in the first half, but ultimately came across as a tad toothless. These opportunities were the closest that they came to scoring:

In the 11th minute, Felipe Vizeu (No. 9, Flamengo) burst into the area along the left byline and shot from a tight angle, though this was blocked out by the goalkeeper. Five minutes later, left-back Guilherme Arana (No. 6, Corinthians) put in a wicked cross from his flank which begged for a touch but evaded those in the centre. Not long afterwards in the 21st minute, Richarlison (No. 18, Fluminense) passed the ball towards the dee where Lucas Paqueta (No. 10, Flamengo) struck a shot with intent, though it went at the goalkeeper. The 28th minute yielded Brazil’s best opportunity to score when Dodô (No. 2, Coritiba) crossed in from the right towards the back post where he found Richarlison in space, but his header was well-saved. Seven minutes later, Dodô put in another good ball from his flank and Richarlison again went to attack it but this time a defender narrowly beat him to the ball and headed out. Lastly, Brazil’s final attacking moment of actual note came as early as the 58th minute when, on the left and seemingly set to cross, Arana instead shot, catching the goalkeeper by surprise who had to punch out from virtually underneath his crossbar.

Alas, though it was a somewhat meek departure with a far-from-vintage crop of players, they did ultimately only miss out on qualification by a mere point and do nevertheless possess several individuals one expects to see more of in upcoming years. Whether or not they become regular fixtures of the senior side is another matter, but there has been plenty of evidence over the past 25 days to suggest that, on average, their players may enjoy more successful club careers than most of the rivals they faced.

The two other games played on the fifth and final Hexagonal Matchday were Argentina vs Venezuela and Ecuador vs Uruguay – talent-spotting articles have also been published for these two encounters. 

Otherwise, to keep track with the careers of these and many other talented South Americans, please follow @DarrenSpherical on Twitter.

Darren Spherical

@DarrenSpherical

Ecuador 3-0 Colombia (Hexagonal Group Stage, Matchday 4, 2017 Sudamericano Sub-20, 8 February 2017)

The first game which took place on Hexagonal Matchday 4 of the 2017 U-20 South American Youth Championship saw hosts Ecuador face Colombia. Below are video highlights, a brief summary of the game and, most importantly, @DarrenSpherical‘s armchair talent-spotting… 

hexagonal8217

(Source: Wikipedia)

Ecuador 3-0 Colombia

CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Hexagonal Group Stage, 8 February 2017 (YouTube)

Colombia’s already slim World Cup qualification hopes were killed off as Ecuador greatly increased theirs following this comfortable victory. The hosts had little to fear from their unambitious opponents and swatted them aside with three second-half goals. The first of these came five minutes after the restart when Bryan Cabezas was played into the area on the left and did well to strike home low. The second goal occurred soon after Colombia had a shot saved in the 63rd minute; this time, a free-kick into the area was poorly dealt with by a defender and Jordy Caicedo was on hand to clinically double the lead. The third and final goal arrived with seven minutes to go when a fine through-ball on the left led to Cabezas roaming into the area and placing a shot past the goalkeeper. Ecuador now go into their final match on Saturday with Uruguay knowing that a win, coupled with the result of the Argentina-Venezuela game going their way, would see them win the tournament.

Talent Spotting

ecuadorflag Ecuador

Bryan Cabezas (No. 10, Atalanta, Italy) again led the Ecuadorian attack and was ultimately rewarded with two goals. Even before he had got onto the scoresheet, he had already caused a couple of problems for the opposition back-line, firstly in the 18th minute when he ran onto a through-ball on the left in the area and, though offside, poked a shot goalwards. 17 minutes later, he had a better opportunity from a similar position when Herlin Lino (No. 9, Barcelona SC, Ecuador) played an incisive ball through and he whistled a left-footed strike just wide of the far post. However, it was in the 50th minute that he was able to make the breakthrough, when he latched onto a pass from Jordan Sierra (No. 15, Delfin) in an identical position on the left inside the area and drilled a low left-footed strike past the goalkeeper to make it 1-0. Later on in the 83rd minute, he wrapped up the victory when Pervis Estupiñán (No. 6, Granada, Spain) – who was again a regular attacking threat – perfectly timed his pass to Cabezas in his trusty position on the left in the area, from where he slid home to make it 3-0. Following these goals, Cabezas now finds himself as the tournament’s joint top-scorer, along with Uruguay’s Rodrigo Amaral and Argentina’s Marcelo Torres, with five goals.

The second goal that divided Cabezas’ strikes was netted by Jordy Caicedo (No. 19, Universidad Católica, Ecuador) for his third of the tournament. Previously, he had a low shot on the turn easily saved in the 36th minute before coming much closer to scoring some four minutes later. Indeed, Wilter Ayoví (No. 8, Independiente Del Valle) – who earlier had a tame shot of his own saved – did well to take the ball past a defender and into the area on the right, from where he slid in a low cross that Cabezas went for but which instead found its way to Caicedo; however, his shot was deflected and bobbled wide for a corner. Caicedo’s goal instead came along in the 63rd minute, when a free-kick from the right was swung in and a dreadful error by a defender allowed the ball through to the Ecuador striker who pounced to swing home a low strike.

colombia Colombia

For the second consecutive game, there were very few positives to be said about Colombia, who have limply surrendered their chance to play at the U-20 World Cup, a tournament at which two years prior they reached the Round of 16.

Here, their star of the past few weeks, Juan ‘El Cucho’ Hernández (No. 10, América de Cali, on loan from Granada, Spain), had two minor moments that, admittedly, are barely worthy of a mention. The first occurred just before half time when, probably frustrated on the left edge of the area, he turned and chipped a right-footed effort that was very comfortable for the goalkeeper. The second came just two minutes after the restart when a throw found him on the right inside the area and he put the ball onto his left foot but hit his shot comfortably wide.

Otherwise, in the 62nd minute, just before Ecuador doubled their lead, Julián Quiñones (No. 7, Tigres, Mexico) picked up the ball and struck from about 30 yards; it was a good left-footed effort from a central position, though the goalkeeper got down to parry it out. Also, with virtually the last kick of the game, Quiñones put in a corner that Jorge Obregón (No. 19, Unión Magdalena) managed to head but it was easily blocked a second or so before the final whistle brought down the curtains on Colombia’s aspirations.

The two other games played on Hexagonal Matchday 4 were Uruguay vs Venezuela and Brazil vs Argentina – talent-spotting articles have also been published for these matches.

Otherwise, the fifth and final Matchday of the Hexagonal will be on 11 February 2017 and the games shall be Argentina vs Venezuela, Colombia vs Brazil and Ecuador vs Uruguay – expect to see one last bout of talent-spotting from these encounters on Hispanospherical.com. 

To keep up-to-date with the latest from Ecuador 2017, please follow @DarrenSpherical on Twitter.

Darren Spherical

@DarrenSpherical

Uruguay 3-0 Colombia (Hexagonal Group Stage, Matchday 3, 2017 Sudamericano Sub-20, 5 February 2017)

The second game which took place on Hexagonal Matchday 3 of the 2017 U-20 South American Youth Championship saw Uruguay face Colombia. Below are video highlights, a brief summary of the game and, most importantly, @DarrenSpherical‘s armchair talent-spotting… 

group5217

(Source: Wikipedia)

Uruguay 3-0 Colombia

CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Hexagonal Group Stage, 5 February 2017 (YouTube)

Uruguay booked their place at the U-20 World Cup with a comfortable victory against Colombia. They had the bulk of the chances and first took advantage of one in the 41st minute when Facundo Waller dinked an effort over the goalkeeper from outside the area. The second goal came in the 65th minute when striker Nicolás Schiappacasse clinically finished off a fine move. Colombia’s best chance of note came just over five minutes afterwards but this was squandered and thus, five minutes after a red card was awarded to Cafeteros’ Jhon Balanta, Uruguay put the result beyond doubt in the 83rd minute. Indeed, Nicolás De La Cruz was fouled in the area and then picked himself up to make it 3-0 with his spot-kick. Thus, Uruguay will be off to South Korea in May and currently lead this competition handsomely with a 100 per cent record after three Hexagonal games.

Talent Spotting

uruguayflag Uruguay

Nicolás De La Cruz (No. 11, Liverpool, Uruguay) again shone and the rumours of Barcelona watching him appear entirely plausible to anyone who has seen him during this tournament. He scored his third goal of the competition with an 83rd-minute penalty which sneaked in off the post and he also had at least a couple of other attacking moments of note in the game. For example, in the 33rd minute, from a second opportunity to do so, he put in a perfect cross for Carlos Benavidez (No. 8, Defensor Sporting), yet from barely four yards out the latter headed over. Later on in the 59th minute, De La Cruz set up another great chance, this time from the right as he slid the ball to Agustín Canobbio (No. 19, Fénix) who struck from an angle inside the area, though saw his shot parried.

Subsequently, the ball fell to Facundo Waller (No. 15, Plaza Colonia) who perhaps should have scored, but instead sliced his shot over. However, he had at least already managed to get on the scoresheet when he got the opening goal after 41 minutes; here, Rodrigo Bentancur (No. 20, Boca Juniors, Argentina) slid Waller the ball on the edge of the area and, benefiting from a slight bobble, he scooped a strike over the opposition goalkeeper to make it 1-0.

The second goal after 65 minutes was a fine team move involving many of the players mentioned so far. Indeed, on the halfway line, De La Cruz helped the ball on to Bentancur who, in turn, gave it to Canobbio some 30 yards out. He played in Nicolás Schiappacasse (No. 9, Atlético Madrid) on the left side of the area who did well to first control with his left, then clinically strike home with his right boot to make it 2-0.

Schiappacasse also had a role in Uruguay’s first opportunity of the game in the third minute, dinking back a pass to Rodrigo Amaral (No. 10, Nacional, Uruguay) into the area, but the latter’s effort from an angle ended up in the side-netting. However, not too long afterwards, Amaral did create a couple of opportunities for team-mates, first of all Agustín Rogel (No. 18, Nacional) from a fine 11th-minute free-kick, though the latter didn’t make a proper connection with his header and it went over. Then, in the 19th minute, Amaral slid forward a nice pass for Bentancur, yet despite being around the edge of the area and managing to gain space from his marker, his shot was fired over the bar.

colombia Colombia

Perhaps it was the deflation of losing in the last minute against Argentina that affected their performance here but Colombia never really got going and hardly created any chances of note.

17-year-old golden boy Juan ‘El Cucho’ Hernández (No. 10, América de Cali, on loan from Granada, Spain) perhaps had his side’s best chance, though this didn’t occur until the 71th minute. Previously, he had managed one of very few other attempts when, in the 51st minute, he controlled the ball inside the area before striking comfortably wide. The effort with 19 minutes was somewhat more substantial, with Kevin Balanta (No. 8, Deportivo Cali) dancing past some opponents before sliding the ball to Hernández on the left inside the area, but alas, he struck his shot hard into the side-netting when the circumstances demanded a goal.

The low possibility of Colombia getting back into the game wasn’t helped by the red card awarded to Jhon Balanta (No. 18, Universitario Popayán) with 12 minutes remaining. They did, however, have one last shot in stoppage-time when Ever Valencia (No. 13, Atlético Bucaramanga) took aim from 25 yards out but alas, the Uruguayan goalkeeper did well to parry wide.

Thus, Colombia must regroup, though with just one point from three games, their World Cup qualification prospects are not looking promising.

The two other games played on Hexagonal Matchday 3 were Brazil vs Venezuela and Ecuador vs Argentina – talent-spotting articles have now been published for both of these matches.

Otherwise, Matchday 4 of the Hexagonal will be on 8 February 2017 and the games shall be Ecuador vs Colombia, Uruguay vs Venezuela and Brazil vs Argentina – expect to see another bout of talent-spotting from these encounters on Hispanospherical.com. 

To keep up-to-date with the latest from Ecuador 2017, please follow @DarrenSpherical on Twitter.

Darren Spherical

@DarrenSpherical

Colombia 1-2 Argentina (Hexagonal Group Stage, Matchday 2, 2017 Sudamericano Sub-20, 2 February 2017)

The first game which took place on Hexagonal Matchday 2 of the 2017 U-20 South American Youth Championship saw Colombia face Argentina. Below are video highlights, a brief summary of the game and, most importantly, @DarrenSpherical‘s armchair talent-spotting… 

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(Source: Wikipedia)

Colombia 1-2 Argentina

CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Hexagonal Group Stage, 2 February 2017 (YouTube)

Argentina gained a last-gasp victory against Colombia to get their qualification plans back on track. Following a forgettable 3-0 defeat against Uruguay, they needed to re-assert themselves as contenders in this tournament and, in ultra-quick fashion, did. Indeed, after just 19 seconds, Marcelo Torres superbly controlled a diagonal ball and then curled it into the back of the net to give his side the lead. Despite this start, the rest of the half was less dynamic though Colombia may feel aggrieved to have had a goal ruled out for offside. However, they were on level terms some 12 minutes after the restart when Juan Hernández managed to head home a knock-on from a free-kick. Subsequently, it wasn’t really until the last twenty minutes that Argentina began pushing with some concerted pressure and they were to be aided by the dismissal of Colombia’s Eduard Atuesta in the 79th minute. Indeed, in stoppage-time they nabbed the win, as Tomás Conechny brilliantly controlled a long ball, then found Lautaro Martinez who cleverly tapped in to make the final score 2-1.

Talent Spotting

colombia Colombia

Once again, Juan ‘El Cucho’ Hernández (No. 10, América de Cali, on loan from Granada, Spain) asserted himself as Colombia’s most important attacking player. In the 24th minute, he was rather unfortunate to have a goal ruled out for offside, though much later in the 57th minute, he was able to legally find the back of the net. Indeed, from a central free-kick dinked into the area, Julián Quiñones (No. 7, Tigres, Mexico) chested it upwards and into the direction of Hernández who beat the outcoming goalkeeper to the ball to head home. Otherwise, he could well have scored again in the 74th minute when he chased the clearance of goalkeeper Manuel Arias (No. 12, Cortuluá) towards the byline on the left, yet despite gaining space from a defender, his attempt to curl in from an angle went wildly over.

Ever Valencia (No. 13, Atlético Bucaramanga) was the man responsible for chipping in the free-kick that led to the Colombian goal. In the first half, he could well have had a direct assist when another free-kick of his, this time swung in from the left, was met by Kevin Balanta (No. 8, Deportivo Cali), though his header glanced wide.

Otherwise, though at times Colombia seemed like they were on top, they didn’t have too many chances, with the pick of the remaining crop being the following: The 4th-minute 25-yard strike of Juan Ramírez (No. 21, Atlético Nacional) went a couple yards wide; in the 47th minute, Leyser Chaverra (No. 15, Universitario Popayán) came striding into the right side of the area before having his left-footed effort spilled low; lastly, in the 50th minute on the inside-left, Ramírez passed to Quiñones, who returned the ball to the former with a fine chest then kick-on-the-turn and he then got a touch to it just inside the area but was unable to convert goalwards.

argentinaflag Argentina

Santiago Ascacibar (No. 5, Estudiantes de La Plata) quickly capitalised on a loose ball and instinctively played a finely-weighted pass to Marcelo Torres (No. 21, Boca Juniors); he, after a mere 19 seconds, took two touches to control and then superbly curl home for his fifth goal of the tournament. However, despite this, Torres was to be of little further threat and was withdrawn on the hour.

Overall, though there were many lulls and little consistency, Argentina’s leading threat was probably Tomás Conechny (No. 20, San Lorenzo). After just five minutes a throw from the right was chested to him on the edge of the area and he struck a left-footed half-volley just a yard or so over the bar. Reflecting Argentina’s lack of ambition throughout much of this game, his next moment of significance was not until the 71st minute. Here, perhaps frustrated at his team-mates, he just decided to strike a left-footed effort from 35 yards on the inside-left; it was hit well but went straight to the goalkeeper. Three minutes later, he played a minor role in a more testing chance as he nodded a Milton Valenzuela (No. 3, Newell’s Old Boys) ball into the path of striker Lautaro Martínez (No. 9, Racing Club). From just outside the area on the inside-left, Martínez let the ball run over to his right boot with which he struck a fine shot that was just about parried wide. However, though this was close, a far better chance would be created in stoppage-time: Ascacibar played an impressive diagonal ball towards the left inside the area which Conechny superbly controlled and then gained some space to put in a low pass to Martínez who tapped home for the win.

Aside from these moments in this somewhat topsy-turvy and often quiet game, Argentina’s other chances of note were, firstly, a 35th-minute shot from Brian Mansilla (No. 11, Racing Club) at an angle inside the area which had to be tipped over and, secondly the 83rd-minute strike of Nicolás Zalazar (No. 14, San Lorenzo) from 30 yards that had to be parried into the air before being caught.

The two other games played on Hexagonal Matchday 2 were Uruguay vs Brazil and Ecuador vs Venezuela – talent-spotting articles have now also been published by both of these matches. 

Otherwise, Matchday 3 of the Hexagonal will be on 5 February 2017 and the games shall be Brazil vs Venezuela, Uruguay vs Colombia and Ecuador vs Argentina – expect to see another bout of talent-spotting from these encounters on Hispanospherical.com. 

To keep up-to-date with the latest from Ecuador 2017, please follow @DarrenSpherical on Twitter.

Darren Spherical

@DarrenSpherical

Colombia 1-1 Venezuela (Hexagonal Group Stage, Matchday 1, 2017 Sudamericano Sub-20, 30 January 2017)

With six teams having qualified from the initial group stage, the Final Phase – also known as the Hexagonal – of the 2017 edition of the U-20 South American Youth Championship is now under way. The first of three games which took place on Matchday 1 saw Colombia take on neighbours Venezuela. Below are video highlights, a brief summary of the game and, most importantly, @DarrenSpherical‘s armchair talent-spotting… 

30117grouo

(Source: Wikipedia)

Colombia 1-1 Venezuela

CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Hexagonal Group Stage, 30 January 2017 (YouTube)

Venezuela came close to defeating neighbours Colombia, though were thwarted by a late equaliser. The first period consisted largely of half-chances until Yeferson Soteldo put La Vinotinto‘s U20s ahead with a finely curled free-kick. The second half saw more forward forays by Colombia but the win appeared to be Venezuela’s when Carlos Cuesta was sent off for a foul on Soteldo in the 70th minute. However, half-time substitute Juan Hernández hadn’t deserted the cause and with barely five minutes left won a penalty, which he then duly stepped up to convert to earn a draw for Colombia. Although on balance a point apiece may have been a fair result, the awarding of the penalty left many Venezuelans fuming, including senior internationals Salomón Rondón and Oswaldo Vizcarrondo, who both aired their views on Twitter.

Talent Spotting

colombia Colombia

As Juan ‘El Cucho’ Hernández (No. 10, América de Cali, on loan from Granada, Spain) started his second successive game on the bench, perhaps his manager was saving  him for future battles against – based on reputation, at least – stronger opposition. However, a goal down at the break, his presence was required and he was to emerge as the most significant player of the second half. His first moment of note occurred in the 56th minute when, on the right flank, Leyser Chaverra (No. 15, Universitario Popayán) headed towards him; instead of simply controlling the ball, Hernández displayed some ingenuity by swivelling off the ball and allowing it to run into his path towards the edge of the area before having a low strike parried at the near post. A few minutes later on the right just outside the area, perhaps due to a lack of options he decided to shoot, with his right-footed strike curling inwards before being parried away. However, his most significant contribution came with around five minutes left when he chased a long ball and was brought down for a foul in the area by the Venezuelan goalkeeper – even if the latter did also get a touch on the ball. Thus, he stepped up and confidently dispatched the penalty to gain his nation a point as well as solidify himself as his side’s most important player.

The majority of his team-mates were less visible though, particularly in the first half, the attacking midfield trio of Ever Valencia (No. 13, Atlético Bucaramanga), Jorge Obregón (No. 19, Unión Magdalena) and Luis Fernando Díaz (No. 17, Barranquilla) seemed the likeliest to get Colombia a goal. Indeed, after just two minutes, Valencia slid in Obregón at an acute angle inside the area, though his shot went wide. In the 23rd minute, Díaz stroked a pass to Valencia on the left inside the area and, had it not been for the sliding block of a defender, could well have put his side ahead. Lastly, after 33 minutes from the edge of the area on the inside-right, Obregón hit a well-struck drive that forced a good parry out wide.

The closest Colombia came to scoring in the first half occurred in the 25th minute when Michael Nike Gómez (No. 11, Envigado) robbed an opponent on the right then, from the byline, played in a low ball that was uncontrollably stabbed by a Venezuela defender from close-range, forcing his own goalkeeper into a good instinctive save. Otherwise, the only other moment of hope before Hernández’s arrival came just before half time when Eduard Atuesta (No. 20, Independiente Medellín) curled a 30-yard free-kick over the wall, requiring a low diving save from the goalkeeper.

venezuelaflag Venezuela

He has been criticised for his lack of end-product but here, albeit from a static position, Yeferson Soteldo (No. 10, Huachipato, Chile) finally provided something of substance for his cheerleaders to purr over. Indeed, though some Colombians felt their goalkeeper could have done better, Soteldo’s 36th-minute free-kick was exquisitely curled over the wall into the back of the net. Otherwise, he was less successful from his other set-pieces and there was less midfield dribbling wizardry than has been the case, but he was nevertheless the man who was fouled in the 70th minute for Cuesta’s red card – had he not been he would have been one-on-one and, at a stretch, just about able to get a shot away.

Goalkeeper Wuilker Fariñez (No. 1, Caracas FC) made some routine stops as well as one decent first-half save from Obregón, though perhaps in this game more than any other, he gave scouts with an eye on him cause for concern. Indeed, he dealt with one cross unconvincingly (no doubt a rather common occurrence for a goalkeeper of 5 feet 9 inches) and, on another occasion, dallied outside his area by the touchline before being partly dispossessed and nearly fatally caught out. Most significantly, he committed the foul that conceded the penalty; while some argue that he got the ball first, he did nevertheless make contact with Hernández at virtually the same time with what was a rather clumsy attempt at intercepting. All the same, these things happen to the best and he has still only conceded two goals in five games – if, as seems likely, Venezuela let in at least a few more in their remaining games, one wonders if more shortcomings of his shall be exposed.

Otherwise, captain Yangel Herrera (No. 8, Atlético Venezuela) quietly impressed, on at least a few occasions displaying some neat footwork to shield the ball from opponents and, more generally, ensuring that Colombia rarely got too close for comfort – he has surely been emboldened by his seemingly imminent move to Manchester City.

Ronaldo Lucena (No. 16, Zamora FC) was once again a threat from set-pieces, though perhaps his two most notable crosses from these dead-ball situations came in the early exchanges. The first was in the 9th minute when his ball into the area from the left was headed on in space to Ronaldo Peña (No. 9, Las Palmas, Spain), who instinctively stabbed at the ball, but his effort was too close to the goalkeeper – had the latter a cooler head, he could well have found the back of the net though, to his minor relief, the flag was, in any case, raised soon afterwards. Lucena’s second decent set-piece came a couple of minutes later as his corner was headed, in a good position, by Williams Velásquez (No. 2, Estudiantes de Caracas), but alas, it went straight towards the goalkeeper, who caught.

Ultimately, it was nevertheless a fairly solid defensive performance by Venezuela and there was doubtless relief when Soteldo doubled his country’s tournament tally, though as both of these goals were from set-piece scenarios, fans will be keen to see more open-play attacking moves in their four remaining games.

The two subsequent games played on Hexagonal Matchday 1 were Uruguay vs Argentina and Ecuador vs Brazil – click to read talent-spotting articles for these encounters.

Otherwise, Matchday 2 of the Hexagonal will be on 2 February 2017 and the games shall be Colombia vs Argentina, Uruguay vs Brazil and Ecuador vs Venezuela – expect to see another bout of talent-spotting from these encounters on Hispanospherical.com. 

To keep up-to-date with the latest from Ecuador 2017, please follow @DarrenSpherical on Twitter.

Darren Spherical

@DarrenSpherical

Day 9 – 2017 Sudamericano Sub-20 (Colombia 1-0 Chile & Ecuador 2-1 Paraguay)

On the ninth day of the 2017 edition of the prestigious U-20 South American Youth Championship, attention turned to the final matches from Group A, with Colombia taking on Chile and hosts Ecuador facing Paraguay. Below are video highlights, brief summaries of each game and, most importantly, @DarrenSpherical‘s armchair talent-spotting…

groupa26117

(Source: Wikipedia)

Colombia 1-0 Chile

CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Group A, 26 January 2017 (YouTube)

Chile certainly exhibited more attacking initiative than in previous games, but unfortunately for them, they were unable to find the back of the Colombian net and thus it is instead their opponents who are through to the Hexagonal. Indeed, La Rojita were put on the back foot early on when a few of their defenders stood off Ever Valencia, who waltzed through centrally before placing a low shot home for the lead. Chile nevertheless responded and were to come forward with increasing levels of urgency, with Jeisson Vargas and Francisco Sierralta in particular driving their side on. It was the latter who actually hit the crossbar with 15 minutes remaining and shortly after, team-mate Ignacio Jara was to miss what was Chile’s best opportunity: virtually an open goal in front of which he squandered a low header. All that being said, they needed to win not draw and Colombia never lost the ability to get forward, nearly getting the game’s second goal themselves in the 56th minute when Eduard Atuesta struck the post with a low drive. When the final whistle blew, they had done enough to progress and thus shall hopefully prove to be another welcome attack-minded addition to the final group stage.

Talent Spotting

colombia Colombia

Colombia had at least a couple of noteworthy players absent from the line-up but, fortunately, a 5th-minute goal from  Ever Valencia (No. 13, Atlético Bucaramanga) was able to settle any nerves early on. He latched onto a short central pass from Jorge Obregón (No. 19, Unión Magdalena), then benefited from some Chilean reserve as he was able to make his through a little too easily before striking a low shot into the corner for his third tournament goal. He and Obregón often linked up well alongside their attacking team-mates and made for a formidably powerful and pacy  spectacle when roaming forward with quick interplay. Indeed, in the 13th minute, Obregón again came upfield to slide a pass to Valencia, this time on the inside-right edge of the area; from here, the latter struck a low left foot effort that was saved. Later on in the 51st minute, Valencia managed to get another shot away following good work from Obregón and another compatriot; this time, his effort was from outside the area and comfortably gathered by the goalkeeper.

Though they connected well, aside from the goal these individuals playing behind the striker didn’t really create an eye-catching chance. One man who did, however, was the striker they were often seeking to play in. Indeed, in the 25th minute, Michael Nike Gómez (No. 11, Envigado) came the closest he has all tournament to doing something befitting his advertiser’s dream of a name. Back-to-goal somewhat right-of-centre in the area, he did a great piece of improvisational skill to tee himself up, swivel and strike a fine volley that wenr just wide of the far post.

Otherwise, the closest Colombia came to extending the lead was a 55th-minute effort from captain Eduard Atuesta (No. 20, Independiente Medellín). Just a few minutes before this, the holding midfielder had headed a half-decent chance over but here, following good work from Luis Fernando Díaz (No. 17, Barranquilla) and a lay-off from Obregón, he hit the far post from just inside the area on the right.

One man surprisingly absent from the line-up was hitherto star man, Juan ‘El Cucho’ Hernández (No. 10, América de Cali, on loan from Granada, Spain). He entered the fray in the 73rd minute and got away a couple of late efforts when Chile had committed a few too many players up the other end: striking wide with a snap-shot as well as shooting at the goalkeeper. Whilst these were not the ideal circumstances to shine, one expects to see far more of him in the Hexagonal stage.

chileflag Chile

Although they probably won’t find much solace in the fact, La Rojita did nevertheless put in a spirited response to going behind so early, even if ultimately they fell short. Jeisson Vargas (No. 10, Estudiantes de La Plata, Argentina, on loan from Bologna, Italy), their most potent attacking threat in the tournament – even if he did only play less than two-and-a-half games – was again here often involved with the search for a goal. Indeed, he hoisted and curled many balls into the area, some admittedly much better than others, though at least one should have had a better outcome than a soft header wide. Later in the 59th minute, he managed to fashion a chance for himself almost out of nothing when Richard Paredes (No. 9, Palestino) slightly overhit a diagonal ball from the edge of the area over towards the left; it was almost on the byline and looked set to go out before Vargas wrapped his left foot around it and struck a well-hit half-volley that the goalkeeper had to parry out.

Possibly the most visible man on the pitch was captain Francisco Sierralta (No. 13, Palestino, on loan from Granada, Spain), nominally a centre-back but who increasingly seemed to be given licence to roam. He was the one who greeted Vargas’ best free-kick delivery which came in from a deep position on the right in the 30th minute; however, though he rose high, he got a weak connection on the ball and his header went comfortably past the far post. Yet, he came much closer later on in the 75th minute when he bustled forward to the edge of the area and managed to poke, with some considerable power, a strike that rattled off the crossbar. Perhaps in part due to his determination to stay in the competition, his eagerness saw him pick up a second yellow in stoppage-time; yet, with so many other players who, pre-tournament, were earmarked for future prosperity also having been sent off, he can perhaps consider this a rite of passage. Indeed, he evidently has leadership qualities and is capable of providing an attacking threat as well as keeping forwards largely at bay (Chile’s record of four goals conceded in four games was their group’s second best). Thus, it is little wonder that the talent-hunters of Granada have already reached a deal for this irrepressible man.

Nevertheless, Sierralta may have hit the woodwork but it was another of Chile’s notable prospects who had their best chance to score. Indeed, Ignacio Jara (No. 15, Cobreloa) really should have equalised in the 80th minute when a free-kick lofted in by Gabriel Suazo (No. 8, Colo Colo) was headed invitingly across the goalmouth; however, though Jara got down to his knees in front of a gaping hole at the back post, he somehow nodded wide.

Lastly, a quick mention for an early 22nd-minute chance merely because it involved two Chileans who, during this tournament, always hinted that they had extra in their arsenal without ever really doing anything remarkable. Indeed, the tricky, if slight, Victor Dávila (No. 7, Huachipato) set up this opportunity on the inside-right when his hopeful ball found Iván Morales (No. 19, Colo Colo) in the area, though the latter struck into the side-netting.

Individuals such as these may become decent domestic players but if one had to bet on who will be receiving regular call-ups to the national side in the upcoming years, one would have to go with the following: Vargas, Sierralta (and possibly some other defence-minded players) and, with somewhat greater reservations, Jara.

Ecuador 2-1 Paraguay

CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Group A, 26 January 2017 (YouTube)

In a game that would have led to the drawing of lots had it ended level, hosts Ecuador just about held on to progress, pipping Colombia and Brazil to the top of Group A on goals scored. They looked the better side early on and with two goals in two minutes momentarily seemed to send Paraguay into a spin. The first of these came in the 20th minute after their defence was caught out by a chipped ball which, in space, was then slid to Washington Corozo to knock home. Shortly afterwards, the home fans were sent into raptures when a hoisted ball towards the area was headed out only to Herlin Lino, who volleyed a spectacular golazo from 25 yards. By half time, Paraguay seemed out, though their coach hadn’t given up, even sending his players back out onto the pitch a few minutes before their opponents. He got an instant response as within 25 seconds of the restart, a hopeful ball knocked towards the right edge of the area was cheekily, yet wonderfully, lobbed over the goalkeeper by Pedro Báez. With the deficit halved, Paraguay threw virtually everything they had at the Ecuador goal, coming very close on more than one occasion. They caused home jitters with every forward foray as the hosts were frequently put very much on the back foot, surviving scare after scare. Alas, they clung on and should provide some much-needed atmosphere and bustling play in the Hexagonal; Paraguay, on the other hand, may feel a little unlucky to be leaving, though ultimately they didn’t quite do enough.

Talent Spotting

ecuadorflag Ecuador

Possibly Ecuador’s most consistent threat in the tournament, Joao Rojas (No. 17, Emelec), had a hand in both of the goals as well as threatened to get on the scoresheet himself. Indeed, early on in the 9th minute he whipped in a free-kick from the left that dipped and had to be parried out. Shortly afterwards, he created a gilt-edged opportunity for another player of note, Washington Corozo (No. 7, Independiente Del Valle), when his perfectly weighted cross from the right found the latter in acres of space, yet he directed his header straight against the post. However, in the 20th minute, Corozo made up for this when he scored the opener. This arrived when Rojas did brilliantly to beat the offside trap and control a fine chipped ball from Jordan Sierra (No. 15, Delfin) and then slide it in space across the area to Corozo, who turned and struck home. For the second goal, Rojas dinked a ball forward to the edge of the area where it was headed out unconvincingly to Herlin Lino (No. 9, Barcelona SC, Ecuador), who deserves all the credit for his sensational swerving volley from 25 yards, which caught the goalkeeper out of position and ripped the back of the net.

Otherwise, Rojas and Corozo did provide some more notable contributions to the game: the former tested the goalkeeper and his defence from set-pieces and the latter ran at opponents, getting in a shot or two from open play and almost played a part in sealing the win late on. This occurred in the 82nd minute when he marched on a breakaway down the left, but a defender caught up with him as he was set to play the ball through for a one-on-one opportunity; his pass was thus blocked.

Two minutes after this, with Paraguay largely stationed in opposition territory, another ball was played into space in their half, this time on the right. With possibly his first touch of the match, Corozo’s replacement Jordy Caicedo (No. 19, Universidad Católica, Ecuador), struck a fearsome effort from the right of the area, which caused concern even if it went wide.

However, chances like these last two were rather isolated moments in the second half as Ecuador were largely preoccupied with repelling the Paraguayan onslaught. Indeed, in perhaps a portent of things to come, just before half time, Bryan Cabezas (No. 10, Atalanta, Italy) did rather well to stop a cross from reaching its target at the back post, as he headed away from what was almost the underside of the bar. After the break, the services of attackers such as he would be required more at their own end; in the Hexagonal, however, Ecuador have thus far shown more than enough to convince that they will be a significant threat to opponents, whomever they may be.

paraguay Paraguay

Jesús Medina (No. 11, Libertad) has probably been his country’s most significant player in this tournament and, though he could not find a way through here, much anticipation nevertheless greeted many of his touches. Indeed, he actually had his side’s first notable chance of the match when, in the 12th minute, he took the ball past a player and then, from the inside-left of the area with a clear sight of goal, took aim; alas, his shot was straight at the goalkeeper and was blocked out. Later in the 30th minute, he exhibited some wherewithal and technique to skilfully keep in at the left byline an overhit free-kick; from here, he hooked the ball into the area where it bounced before a team-mate who, unfortunately, blazed well over. In the second half, he continued to be a potential threat from set-pieces, his most notable attempt from one coming in the 66th minute 22 yards out on the inside-right; yet, despite the huge delay and build-up, he curled this a yard or two over the near post.

The man who did manage to find the back of the net – and who was also the player who whacked over Medina’s first-half cut-back – was Pedro Báez (No. 9, Real Salt Lake, USA, on loan from Cerro Porteño). His first goal of the tournament against Chile had been quietly impressive but this audacious lob from a Marcelo Arce (No. 3, Olimpia) hoist down the right side of the area immediately earned widespread praise. Though there was an element of hit-and-hope about it, one must credit him for rapidly eyeing the opportunity and then seizing the moment. Otherwise, though he certainly bustled, the closest he later came to helping his side get a second occurred in the 67th minute. Here, after he did well to beat his man he put in a cross from the right that dipped towards the back post and almost found a creeping team-mate, but a defender was there to head out.

However, one man who probably should have got an equalising goal, was substitute Richard Prieto (No. 20, General Díaz). The chance he squandered came in the 70th minute when a hoisted ball into the area was weakly chested by a defender towards his goalkeeper, yet so soft was it that Prieto was able to sneak in, one-one-one, but his blasted shot went well over. For many, that was the moment and that was the tournament.

Right-back Rodi Ferreira (No. 2, Olimpia) was responsible for this delivery into the area and he was another potential supplier of that elusive second goal, often knocking balls upfield from deep positions. Sometimes, he even got forward himself, such as in the 57th minute when a free-kick was struck in from the left side and he just about kept the ball in play on the byline; his hanging header, no doubt unintentionally, caused a few jitters as it eventually came down and hit the top of the crossbar before going over.

Both he and the left-sided full-back Blás Riveros (No. 4, Basel, Switzerland).appear to be important prospects who could quite plausibly become regulars in the senior squad in upcoming years. Indeed, in this match the Swiss-based left-back also tried to get himself an assist, curling in some decent balls that nevertheless could not be directed goalwards. He himself, to his enormous credit, actually created a chance of his own in the 63rd minute; here, following the breakdown of a Ecuador corner, he blazed a trail up the centre of the pitch, easily bypassing at least two players along the way, before striking a solid effort that went a yard or so wide of the far post. Later on in the tense latter stages, as he was often pushing forward, he sometimes had to dash back, such as in the 82nd minute when he impressively crossed over to the right side of the pitch to stop Corozo from playing a through-ball that could have led to an Ecuadorian third. Thus, Riveros shows potential at both ends and was even given the tournament’s blessing for future success by getting sent off at the death – who knows, we may see him in the Champions League next season.

Nevertheless, despite impressive moments from players such as Riveros, Rodi Ferreira, Medina and Báez, as well as, at times, Cristhian Paredes (No. 6, Club América, Mexico) and Sebastián Ferreira (No. 19, Olimpia), it’s adios to Paraguay. They came close, but just couldn’t quite manage to upset the capacity crowd in Riobamba.

To keep up-to-date with the latest from Ecuador 2017, please follow @DarrenSpherical on Twitter. The next games will be Uruguay vs Bolivia & Argentina vs Venezuela, the final games from both Group B and the group stage altogether – expect to see another bout of talent-spotting from these encounters on Hispanospherical.com. 

Darren Spherical

@DarrenSpherical