Colombia was dealt a major setback on Monday when it was announced that Monaco striker Radamel Falcao would be left off the final 23-man roster due to a knee injury.
Falcao suffered a torn ACL in January and underwent surgery, which immediately jeopardized his World Cup chances. The 28-year-old wasn't expected to recover in time with regard to both form and fitness, but Monday's announcement makes it official.
Colombia coach Jose Pekerman made the announcement from the team's training grounds in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He called it "the saddest day I've had since becoming Colombia coach." Apparently, Falcao had a say in the decision:
Falcao: "I'm still not ready and I didn't want to take a place away from one of my teammates who was 100% fit."— Carl Worswick (@cworswick) June 2, 2014
How big a blow will Falcao's absence be as Colombia battles with the Ivory Coast, Greece and Japan to advance out of Group C? Consider this:
Falcao finished third top scorer in South American qualifying with nine goals, behind Luis Suarez (11) and Lionel Messi (10)— Dale Johnson (@dalejohnsonESPN) June 2, 2014
In such a relatively weak group, it's not an overstatement to say that Falcao's skill made Colombia the unquestioned Group C favorites. He had scored 11 goals in 19 matches for Monaco ahead of his injury.
Colombia is probably in a good position to advance, nonetheless, but now the scoring will fall to forward Jackson Martinez and Falcao's Monaco teammate, James Rodriguez.