8 October 2014 19:45
Radamel Falcao is playing the long game as Colombia prepare to take on El Salvador in a friendly in New Jersey on Friday.
The striker – currently on loan at Manchester United from Monaco – missed the World Cup earlier this year with a knee injury, but Colombia thrived despite his absence.
Jose Pekerman’s men made it to the quarter-finals, losing 2-1 to hosts Brazil, while attacker James Rodriguez claimed the golden boot with six goals.
Falcao still rues missing out on Colombia’s Brazilian adventure and is determined to feature in Russia in four years time. The forward views forthcoming friendlies against El Salvador and Canada as the first step towards achieving that goal.
“Colombia will have to give 100 per cent to beat El Salvador and Canada, and on the other hand, we take the opportunity to continue to grow as a group and improve,” he said. “The most important goal is the World Cup in Russia in 2018, but there are also short-term goals and we want be the best we can be.
“Colombia is ready for big things.”
Falcao made his international return as a late substitute in a 1-0 friendly defeat to Brazil last month, when Colombia once again failed to get the better of their more illustrious South American neighbours.
However, having made three league starts since arriving at Old Trafford, the 28-year-old is close to regaining full match fitness and has already found the net for his new club.
Falcao scored the winner as United defeated Everton 2-1 last weekend, sending the forward into the international break full of confidence.
Like Falcao, Colombia coach Pekerman also considers the El Salvador clash to be the beginning of the road to Russia.
“Do not consider the game against Brazil,” he stressed. “It was a match played out of context that we had not scheduled.
“We went into it without having all the players in the condition that we always want to have them for these kinds of of matches.”
El Salvador won two of their four friendlies last month, including an impressive 1-0 win over Honduras in Dallas, Texas.
However, a clash with Colombia – now ranked third in the world – will provide a greater challenge than they have faced since losing 2-0 to Spain back in June.