Colombia and their immense band of supporters in Russia are not frightened by the prospect of facing England in the World Cup last 16, says David Ospina.
It has been a bumpy campaign for Jose Pekerman’s side. It started with Carlos Sanchez getting sent off within three minutes of their opener against Japan, a game they went on to lose 2-1.
Colombia went into their clash with Poland in Kazan in what some considered uncharted territory, as this generation did not have to contend with such pressure at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, where they were eliminated by the hosts in the last eight.
But they stood up to the challenge admirably, producing one of the best team performances of the group phase in a 3-0 dismantling of Poland, before grinding out a 1-0 win over Senegal to book their place in the knockout rounds.
England are up next in Moscow on Tuesday, and although the Three Lions will likely be considered favourites, Colombia fancy themselves.
‘We are a better team than four years ago,’ Ospina told reporters. ‘We are together, more experienced and a stronger squad of players than we were in Brazil.
‘We have experience and good quality. Our players play in the best clubs, the best leagues, and are used to playing in matches of this size, so nothing will frighten us.
‘England are a good team, but we did not mind who it was we would face. We just know we will give everything for our country and take strength from the support.
‘We always give everything for our country. It’s such an honour to play for Colombia.’
One of the most notable aspects of Colombia’s campaign thus far has been their raucous fans and Ospina is certainly aware, with each match feeling like a ‘home game’.
‘The support has been incredible,’ the Arsenal man said. ‘It’s been our inspiration. There are Colombians all over the world but the support here, in Russia, has meant everything to us.
‘It shows the passion and belief that we have in our country. It’s just amazing how many people have come here to support us.
‘It has felt like a home game in every game for us. They make more noise, have more colour and we always have more supporters than the rest.
“It shows how much football means to our country. It’s not pressure, it’s strength for us.’