Duvan Zapata

Rio de Janeiro, March 18 (IANS) Colombia coach Jose Pekerman has called up uncapped Udinese forward Duvan Zapata for the team’s 2018 football World Cup qualifiers against Bolivia and Ecuador.

Zapata, 25, has been in impressive form for the Italian Serie A club this season, scoring eight goals across all competitions, reports Xinhua news agency.

The former Napoli, Estudiantes and America de Cali attacker has previously only represented his country at the under-20 level.

Pekerman also handed recalls to Bahia left-back Pablo Armero and Tigres de UANL forward Luis Quinones.

As expected, there was no place for Monaco forward Radamel Falcao, who was left out after failing to recover from an oblique muscle strain.

Colombia will play Bolivia in Barranquilla on Thursday before a clash with Ecuador in Quito five days later.

Pekerman’s team is currently sixth in the South American zone World Cup qualifying standings, nine points behind leaders Brazil.

The top four teams at the end of the CONMEBOL qualifying tournament will earn a direct berth in next year’s World Cup in Russia. The fifth-ranked team will book a playoff spot.

Colombia squad:

Goalkeepers: David Ospina (Arsenal), Camilo Vargas (Cali) and David Gonzalez (Medellin).

Defenders: Cristian Zapata (Milan), Oscar Murillo (Pachuca), Davinson Sanchez (Ajax) and Yerri Mina (Palmeiras), Santiago Arias and Stefan Medina, Frank Fabra (Boca Juniors), Farid Díaz (Nacional) and Pablo Armero (Bahia).

Midfielders:Carlos Sanchez (Fiorentina), Daniel Torres (Alaves), Wilmar Barrios (Boca Juniors), Mateus Uribe (Nacional) and Abel Aguilar (Cali), Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (Juventus), Edwin Cardona (Monterrey), Macnelly Torres (Nacional), Luis Quinones (Pumas) and James Rodriguez (Real Madrid).

Forwards: Carlos Bacca (Milan), Luis Fernando Muriel (Sampdoria), Duvan Zapata (Udinese) and Miguel Borja (Palmeiras).

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    The IANS was founded by Indian American publisher Gopal Raju as the India Abroad News Service. It was later renamed the Indo-Asian News Service.

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