Falcao ready for Bahrain, Kuwait friendlies
Radamel Falcao is ‘a big problem in need of a solution’ for the Colombia team given his lack of playing time and goals for Manchester United, according to coach Jose Pekerman which could spell danger for Bahrain’s defence tomorrow as the hotshot has a point to prove.
Pekerman named Falcao in his squad for Copa America warm-up games against Bahrain and Kuwait and the star touched down in the kingdom on Monday night after playing for the final few minutes as a substitute in United’s 2-1 victory over Liverpool on Sunday.
Falcao, who missed the World Cup finals in Brazil last year through injury, has seen limited action under United manager Louis van Gaal since moving to the English Premier League club on loan from AS Monaco.
“Of course he’s a big problem in need of a solution, as big as the sadness Falcao must have at the moment,” Pekerman said. “But because I know Falcao’s worth, his mentality, his fighting spirit, I have never doubted he’ll get out of this situation.
“We’ll have him for these two matches, I’m sure he hasn’t lost his fitness but rather he’s going through a tough spell trying to find a place in a team that has sometimes struggled for form.”
United boss Van Gaal has denied humiliating Falcao by recently playing him for the club’s under-21 team this week and said they are searching for a solution to the striker’s poor form.
Much was expected of the 29-year-old Colombian after he joined United on a season-long loan from the French side for $8.85million (BD3.33million) in September.
Falcao has scored only four goals in 20 appearances this season and was substituted after 72 minutes while playing for United’s under-21 side against Tottenham Hotpsur.
“I have read in a lot of papers that it is a humiliation, I don’t think so,” Van Gaal said. “It’s a professional attitude of the management and the club but especially also for the player.”
Falcao made a name for himself in Spain during his time at Atletico Madrid, where he scored 52 goals in 68 league appearances before joining Monaco.
When asked why Falcao has looked out of sorts at Old Trafford, Van Gaal said: “We are looking for the solution. Sometimes players can give fantastic performances in one country but not in another. It would not be the first time and it won’t be the last.”
A turning point may have come last weekend when he was called on to replace booked Ander Herrera in the 83rd minute and Van Gaal made a point of congratulating him on the pitch as United held on for three vital points towards securing a place in next season’s European Champions league.
The Argentine coach of Colombia, now ranked third in the world behind Germany and Argentina, picked a squad of 24 that is missing injured Real Madrid midfielder James Rodriguez for the matches against Bahrain tomorrow and Kuwait the following Monday in the UAE.
But there will be plenty of other stars on show for the kingdom’s football fanatics to savour which has delighted Bahrain Football Association president Shaikh Ali bin Khalifa Al Khalifa.
Attracting one of the big names in world football is an idea the footballing body has been toying around since he took up the role in 2013. Shaikh Ali explained: “We contacted federations and got an offer from an agent, negotiated and it all clicked. Then it was all rush-rush. We only started in mid-February and worked like bees.
“Now everything is on track. Sales are going in the right direction. In fact, the VIPs are sold out which adds up to around 1,500 seats.
“Selling tickets in Bahrain for football is new. People are used to free entry but we decided this was an opportunity to move forward and join the rest of the world.
“Colombia are a big team, full of stars. Bahrain has never hosted a national team of this ranking. We have hosted Inter Milan previously but not a national team of this calibre.
“Historically for us, as a Bahrain national team, playing against a big team such as this will be a first. I know it’s a strong team and people are saying we will be thrashed but we are looking at it from several different directions.
“First of all, the interaction with these stars will be wonderful for the players as well as the fans in Bahrain. These household names coming over to our small island are an opportunity to put us in the limelight again, especially as we have Formula One coming next month.
“The other side is the technical issue of witnessing quality football. Our national team playing this kind of team will give the players immense experience that they could not get anywhere else, regardless of what the result may be. They are getting the opportunity to play on the field against superstars playing in top European and South American leagues.
“It could also be an opportunity for one of our national team players to shine whether on a local or international level, because you have scouts coming in to watch these types of games and many monitoring it too.
“Of course, the financial side is another aspect. At the beginning it was a burden but as we went along and pushed forward to try to get a few sponsors on board, it starts to balance out and we hope ticket sales will really give us a good chance to break even.
“We have been getting calls from everywhere asking about this game. The Bahrain players are excited. Our own professionals playing abroad arrived this week so we have a full squad training.”
Bahrain will also be hosting The Philippines next Monday which will attract a huge crowd of expats working on the island and the football association has ‘plans in the pipeline’ to bring another major footballing nation to the kingdom in the near future.
* Remaining tickets for tomorrow’s Bahrain v Colombia clash at the National Stadium are available priced BD2 and BD3 from McDonald’s outlets and Seef Mall. Kick-off is at 8pm.
Goalkeepers: David Ospina (Arsenal), Camilo Vargas (Atletico Nacional)
Defenders: Pablo Armero (AC Milan), Santiago Arias (PSV Eindhoven), Pedro Franco (Besiktas), Eder Alvarez Balanta (River Plate), Daniel Bocanegra (Atletico Nacional), Jeison Murillo (Granada), Johan Mojica (Real Valladolid), Darwin Andrade (Standard Liege)
Midfielders: Fredy Guarin (Inter Milan), Juan Cuadrado (Chelsea), Abel Aguilar (Toulouse), Juan Quintero (Porto), Carlos Sanchez (Aston Villa), Edwin Cardona, Alexander Mejia (both Monterrey), Wilmar Barrios (Tolima)
Forwards: Radamel Falcao (Manchester United), Carlos Bacca (Sevilla), Teofilo Gutierrez (River Plate), Adrian Ramos (Borussia Dortmund), Rafael Santos Borre (Deportivo Cali), Andres Renteria (Santos Laguna)
Goalkeepers: Sayed Mohammed Jaffer (Muharraq), Hamed Al Doseri (Riffa), Ashraf Waheed Al Sebaie (Manama)
Defenders: Waleed Al-Hayam (Muharraq), Abdulla Omar (Muharraq), Abdulla Al-Haza’a (East Riffa), Rashed Al Hooti (Riffa), Ahmed Mirza (Riffa), Saleh Abdulhameed (Muharraq), Ahmed Abdul Nabi (East Riffa)
Midfielders: Sayed Dea’a (Riffa), Abdulwahab Ali (Muharraq ), Abdulwahab Al-Malood (Hidd), Faouzi Ayesh (Sailiya), Abdullah Abdou (Muharraq), Sayed Ahmed Jaffer (Riffa)
Forwards: Jaycee John Okwunwanne (Al Mesaimeer), Abdulla Janahi (East Riffa), Sami Al-Husaini (Busaiteen), Saed Al Aamer (Riffa), Faisal Budahoum (East Riffa), Isa Musa (Manama)