Bogota (AFP) – Colombia stars James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao have been omitted for a pair of friendlies against Chile and Algeria, coach Carlos Queiroz said on Tuesday.
“All the decisions I make in my life as a coach are in response to a very simple question: ‘what is best for the team?’ Nothing else,” said Colombia’s Portuguese coach.
“I want to have the best players ready when three points are at stake.”
Colombia play Chile on Saturday in Spanish city Alicante and then face Algeria in Lille on October 15. South American qualifying for the 2020 World Cup starts in March.
Queiroz told reporters in Alicante that “crying” over whether players were there or not “is not a good thing for the future of Colombia.”
The coach denied Spanish reports that James, who has returned to Madrid this season, asked to be omitted so he can work at regaining a regular place in the Real first team.
“That is not true,” Queiroz said. “No player has ever asked me to be left out.”
Queiroz said that 33-year-old Falcao, Colombia’s all-time top scorer, has missed nearly half of his country’s matches since knee surgery in 2014 and is in a “difficult moment” after joining Galatasaray, who are in the Champions League, this season with “many games, many trips”
“You have to know how to handle the players well if you want to have a good team,” he said.