Colombia fill the void

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The Independent Online
Colombia, perhaps the most volatile of the South American nations, will be England's replacement opponents at Wembley next month.

The Football Association has confirmed that Fredy Rincon, Carlos Valderrama, Faustino Asprilla and colleagues will step in for Croatia, whose visit on 6 September was postponed on Saturday because of escalating unrest in the Balkans.

"I'm very pleased to get a team of such quality at short notice," the England coach, Terry Venables, said. "They are one of the strongest teams in South America and will be a real challenge for us. It is a good way to kick off the season."

It will be only the third meeting between the countries and the first since Colombia came to Wembley in 1988, when they drew 1-1 in a friendly with Bobby Robson's side. Eighteen years earlier, Sir Alf Ramsey took a side to Bogota and won 4-0 through goals from Alan Ball, Bobby Charlton and Martin Peters (two). Colombia finished third in the recent Copa America.

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