The Colombian Football Federation have announced that Leonel Alvarez will succeed the disgraced Hernan Dario Gomez as coach of the national team following two friendly victories in temporary charge.
Alvarez, who was Gomez’s assistant at the recent Copa America, masterminded friendly wins over Honduras and Jamaica in the United States to crystallise support for his candidacy inside the Federation’s Executive Committee. The seven members met on Thursday and elected to appoint Alvarez in the role despite little front line coaching experience.
“We never doubted his capabilities,” committee member and head of the Colombian league, Ramon Jesurun, told reporters. “His appointment as assistant meant he was always eligible to take over at some point. He demonstrated in the matches in the United States that he knows and understands the group.”
Gerardo Martino, who led Paraguay to the Copa America final twelve months after reaching the last eight of the World Cup, had been the federation’s first choice, but they failed to come to a financial agreement with the Argentine coach. From the moment that occurred Alvarez always looked favourite despite other Colombian coaches being linked with the position.
Alvarez is expected to name his assistant coach by the end of the weekend, with Luis Carlos Perea, Ricardo ‘Chicho’ Pérez and Óscar Pareja thought to be in contention for the role. The remainder of his coaching and preparation staff will be unchanged from those who worked under Gomez.
The former midfielder, who played for Colombia in the 1990 and 1994 World Cups, will begin his quest to lead the nation to their first World Cup in 16 years with a trip to the altitude of La Paz, Bolivia on the 11th or 12th of October.