BARRANQUILLA, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) — Colombia will treat their home World Cup qualifier against Ecuador like a final as they seek to tighten their grip on a berth in football’s showpiece tournament, winger Juan Cuadrado said on Tuesday.
Colombia are currently fifth in the 10-team South American zone standings and can leapfrog third-placed Ecuador with a victory at Barranquilla’s Estadio Metropolitano on Thursday.
“Ecuador are a great team, but we must enforce our home advantage and try to get the three points,” Cuadrado told reporters. “It is a final and all of us are taking this approach. We are really motivated,” the Juventus player added.
These sides met in a World Cup qualifier in November last year when Ecuador cruised to a 6-1 home victory.
However, this is a vastly different Colombia side to the one that struggled in the final weeks of Carlos Queiroz’s stewardship. The Portuguese manager was sacked less than a month after the defeat in Quito and his successor, Reinaldo Rueda, has yet to lose in seven World Cup qualifiers since taking charge in January last year.
Cuadrado agreed that a win against the Tricolor would go a long way to helping Colombia secure a World Cup berth.
“It is a game of supreme importance for us and we know we must have the conviction to get a positive result,” he added.
The top four teams in the South American group will automatically qualify for next year’s World Cup in Qatar while the fifth-ranked side will advance to an intercontinental playoff.