Colombia banking on their character to topple England at World Cup

Colombia coach Nelson Abadia is treating their Women’s World Cup clash on Saturday against England like a chess game, confident his side’s strength of character will carry them through to the semi-finals.

The fourth-ranked European champions will be favourites to win in Sydney, but the South Americans stunned world number two Germany in the group phase and are brimming with confidence.

“We know all the history that England brings in football, it’s important,” said Abadia, whose ambitious 25th-ranked side made the last eight for the first time by edging Jamaica 1-0.

“But for me, it’s 11 against 11 and the optimism is the same we have for every match.

“There are several variables in any match — technical, tactical, physical,” he added.

“But what’s important for me is the strength in the team’s character and that is going to be vital for what we need to do.”

Sarina Wiegman’s England will head into the game without Chelsea forward Lauren James, who has been banned for two games after stamping on Nigeria’s Michelle Alozie in their last-16 clash. -BSS

Abadia also has a selection dilemma and must decide whether to keep faith with attacking defender Ana Guzman, who played against Jamaica in place of the suspended Manuela Vanegas.

It was the composed 18-year-old’s tournament debut and her wonderful cross set up captain Catalina Usme to score their only goal.

Vanegas is again available, but Abadia said he planned to keep England guessing.

“Football is like chess, you need to know how to move the pieces,” he said.

“We had an opportunity for an 18-year-old to debut at the World Cup and she did well.

“We need to be chess players and analyse. We have analysed England and our opportunities and what our best chances are going to be. We are still analysing this.

“But as a coaching team, we trust our players whoever we call on.”

Despite the gulf in rankings, Colombian striker Mayra Ramirez said they would not be going into the game with an inferiority complex, confident their attacking ethos can exploit the England defence.

“It will be difficult, but we have been preparing for months and we’re not worried,” she said.

“If you defend well, you can attack well. I think we are strong in our discipline and organisation and we can counter-attack our rivals.”

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