BOGOTA – Colombia’s national soccer team has begun its World Cup preparations in this capital under the direction of head coach Jose Pekerman and his staff.
In a statement, the Colombian soccer federation (FCF) said the first players to arrive in Bogota for the training sessions were a pair of defenders: Santiago Arias, who plays for Dutch club PSV Eindhoven; and Oscar Murillo, who competes in the Mexican league for Pachuca.
The players “did work in the gym and on the field” and also underwent medical evaluations on Wednesday, the federation said.
The other players will be joining the team once they finish their club commitments, according to the statement.
On Monday, Pekerman unveiled his provisional list of 35 call-ups for this summer’s World Cup in Russia, a roster that must be reduced to 23 by June 4, according to FIFA rules.
That list was headlined by stars James Rodriguez (Bayern Munich) and Radamel Falcao (Monaco) and featured two surprise choices: goalkeeper Ivan Arboleda and midfielder Sebastian Perez, who play for Argentine clubs Banfield and Boca Juniors, respectively.
The national team will train in Colombia over the next week and then depart for Italy on May 26.
Before traveling, the team will have a send-off on May 25 at El Campin Stadium in Bogota that will include a concert and a match featuring the players chosen for the World Cup.
Colombia will play a friendly on June 1 against Egypt in Bergamo, Italy.
The FCF also is organizing another friendly that will be played in Europe just days before the team travels to Kazan, where its team base in Russia will be located.
The South American team has been drawn into Group H of the World Cup along with Poland, Senegal and Japan.