Colombia 'Here For Big Things'
MONCTON, New Brunswick -- No one saw it coming. Colombia's 2-0 upset of heavily favored France is the stunner of the 2015 Woman's World Cup so far -- and perhaps ever.
"They had only two shots on goal," the media room buzzed of the victors after the result.
Some might be inclined to think of the win as a fluke, a far-outmatched team winning over a better one. Others will point to a missed hand ball call. But French coach Philippe Bergeroo, though he admitted he thought there were officiating problems, didn't rely on any excuse.
"When you confront an enthusiastic team after it has some wind under its wings, you need to find solutions," Bergeroo said. "In the second half, we had many opportunities. We were dealing with a great goalkeeper."
Sandra Sepulveda, Colombia's goalkeeper, indeed had six saves, including a few spectacular ones. But she was far from alone as Colombia, ranked No. 28, became the lowest-ranked team to beat a top-10 team at the Women's World Cup since FIFA rankings began in 2003.
"The Colombia team was great one-on-one," said Bergeroo, who identified Lady Andrade's goal in the 18th minute as the turning point in the game. "We gave it our all, and then the second goal happened, but the goal that hurt us was the first one."
It was a quality goal by Colombia, with Yoreli Rincón serving in a perfect pass to Andrade that beat the defense and left the striker with only the goalkeeper to beat. After she scored, Andrade ran past her team to celebrate with assistant coach Nelson Abadia.
"[Abadia] has contributed a great deal," head coach Felipe Taborda said. "He analyzes video, reviews our opponents, gives instructions and explains to our players all the details necessary for them to improve."
Andrade said the help had been invaluable.
"He's believed in me 100 percent and helped me improve a lot," the striker said. "I'm a better player, a better person. It was a way of thanking him to celebrate with him."
It's a big motivation to let the world know that Colombia is here for big things.Striker Lady Andrade
Andrade plays with a chip on her shoulder, partly as the result of a tough upbringing in Colombia, but also because people continue to underestimate her country's team.
"When people talk and in the media, they refer to us as a team that's only there to participate," she said. "Teams like the United States think we're always going to lose and they're going to get three points off us easily. So it's a big motivation to let the world know that Colombia is here for big things."
Andrade's escape has been the game that she loves. Along with her finishing touch, she showed off impressive dribbling skills against France in one sideline sequence that was reminiscent of Ronaldinho, her inspiration.
"Since I was 5, I've played futsal," Andrade said. "That's why I play like that."
The world at large -- which hasn't forgotten seeing Andrade take a frustrated swing at U.S. veteran Abby Wambach at the last Olympic Games -- is now seeing the other side of her ability and talent.
Taborda described his players as "fighters and warriors" but also described how he was constantly pushing them to improve their abilities. This approach has borne fruit.
"We are so enthusiastic, but we're not always able to control that," Andrade said. "Sometimes, facing big teams, they would control the game, and now we impose our game on other teams."
Now that the world has seen what Colombia's "Las Chicas Superpoderosas" can do, they're hoping it resonates in their home country as well.
"We hope that the federation will support us and give us a cup, give us a league," Sepulveda said. "We hope this will be valued by the federation and by everybody."
Andrade relished being a part of her nation's soccer history in such a notable first World Cup win.
"We know we're the ones that inspire the younger players," she said, "and that helps motivate us to keep growing."