Colombia have consigned the disappointment of failing to qualify for the 2022 World Cup to the past as they begin their quest for a berth at the 2026 tournament, playmaker Juan Fernando Quintero has said.
The Cafeteros will face Venezuela on Thursday in Barranquilla and Chile in Santiago on September 12 in the opening two rounds of the South American zone qualifiers.
“It’s another qualifying campaign and what happened last time, happened,” Quintero told reporters on Monday.
“We are focused on the present and looking forward. We don’t want to miss the chance to earn our spot at the next World Cup and we have the opportunity to do that now.”
Quintero, 30, has grappled with a series of injuries in recent years and has not represented his country since March 2022, reports Xinhua.
The former Porto and River Plate playmaker signed a three-and-a-half-year contract with Argentina’s Racing Club earlier this month and has already made a positive impression with two goals and an assist in four starts.
He stressed the need for Colombia to begin the campaign positively against Venezuela.
“It’s our goal to start off on the right foot,” he said. “We have to respect Venezuela while thinking about our own qualities and staying focused on what we want to achieve.”
The 2026 World Cup, set to be the first to feature an expanded 48-team format, will be played in the United States, Mexico and Canada.