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International Friendly Preview: Colombia v Serbia

12 August 2013 18:42

Colombia will begin their preparations for a crucial FIFA World Cup qualifier against Ecuador with a friendly against Serbia on Wednesday.

Jose Pekerman's side take on the European nation in Spain, with the match to be held at Barcelona's second stadium.

Colombia, who have won three of their five matches in 2013, will use the fixture as a tune-up for a match in September that could seal their place at next year's World Cup in Brazil.

The South American nation sit third in the FIFA rankings after an excellent qualifying campaign in which they have gained 23 points from 12 matches.

Only Argentina (26 points) sit above them in the final stage of qualification in South America, although third-placed Ecuador (21 points) are snapping at their heels.

But with Colombia seven points ahead of fifth-placed Uruguay, with just four games to play, qualification could be confirmed next month.

And for that reason Pekerman has selected a full-strength squad for the fixture against Serbia, headlined by Monaco striker Radamel Falcao.

Falcao scored on his Ligue 1 debut on Saturday, helping Monaco to a 2-0 victory at Bordeaux.

The 27-year-old – who joined Monaco for a reported transfer fee of €60million – has scored six goals in Colombia's last 10 fixtures.

Other big names included in Colombia's squad are Porto's Jackson Martinez and Inter's Fredy Guarin, while young stars Juan Fernando Quintero and Luis Muriel are also involved.

There is no place for Teofilo Gutierrez, though, despite the striker scoring five goals in Colombia's last 10 matches.

Serbia coach Sinisa Mihajlovic has also selected a strong squad for the match, while he has given striker Marko Scepovic one last chance to impress him.

The 22-year-old, who plays his club football for Partizan Belgrade, was dropped on Saturday after falling foul of the club's supporters.

Scepovic had the captain's armband ripped off him by a supporter during a UEFA Champions League qualifying defeat last Tuesday and Mihajlovic has warned him to improve his attitude.

"I still believe in Scepovic because I know he has potential but we can't help him if he doesn't want to help himself and this will be the last game he plays for Serbia if he doesn't change his attitude," Mihajlovic said.

"I don't care if Scepovic scores against the Colombians or not. What I want is 100 per cent effort from him and it's now up to him which way his career goes."

Serbia, who are ranked 41st in the world, have almost no chance of making the World Cup, having lost four of their last five matches in Group A of European qualification.

They trail leaders Belgium by 12 points with three matches to play, while Balkan rivals Croatia are nine ahead of them.

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