13 October 2014 17:28
Jackson Martinez has praised the new additions to Colombia’s squad ahead of their friendly with Canada in New Jersey on Tuesday.
Head coach Jose Pekerman handed first caps to four players in the 3-0 victory over El Salvador on Saturday, and Martinez has been impressed with the way they have settled into life on the international scene.
Jeison Murillo, Edwin Cardona, Yimmi Chara and Pedro Franco all featured during the victory, which saw two goals from Carlos Bacca add gloss after Radamel Falcao had opened the scoring with his first international strike in 11 months.
Canada provide the second game in quick succession for Pekerman’s side and Martinez expects the newcomers to be involved again after impressing against El Salvador.
“The new players have earned the opportunity,” said the Porto striker.
“They have been received with much love and much support, because it is not easy to fit in a group, it takes time and work.”
Tuesday’s match is the third for Colombia, who are ranked number three in the world, since they were knocked out at the quarter-final stage at the World Cup, and Pekerman is looking for back-to-back wins.
It will be the fourth meeting between the two nations, but the first since 2000, when Canada won 2-0 in the Gold Cup final.
Canada head coach Benito Floro will be hoping for a similar result in this game, but has already admitted he will be using the contest to aid the development of younger players.
Colombia provide the toughest test since the Spaniard took over in 2013, with teenagers Dylan Carreiro, Hanson Boakai and Manuel Aparicio vying for their first senior caps.
Boakai – a 17-year-old midfielder – is relishing the chance to test himself at the higher level having impressed during a handful of appearances for the Under-20 side.
“All of these guys are here for Canada,” he says.
“They don’t take it as a joke, they know they are playing for their country. Their country depends on them. We’re here to try to win the game.
“Benito Floro has brought in a different style to my game. He told me I’m a good player, I just need to work tactically. That’s what I’m trying to work on, every day in training he teaches me how to be a tactical player.”
Floro’s squad also includes the experienced trio of David Edgar, Julian de Guzman and Lars Hirchfield as they look to build on their 3-1 win over Jamaica in September.
That victory was Floro’s first as coach, and ended a 16-game winless run that stretched back to October 2012.