The 1994 FIFA World Cup was a significant event for Colombia as it marked their third appearance at the tournament. The team had high hopes, having qualified for the tournament without losing a single match and even earning a 5-0 win against Argentina. Brazil's legendary footballer, Pelé, had even picked them as the tournament favourites. However, the team's performance was not up to the expectations.
There were reports of betting syndicates and drug cartels interfering with the team selection, which might have contributed to the internal conflicts. Moreover, the team's goalkeeper, René Higuita, was unfit to play in the tournament, having served a prison sentence. In the first group stage game, Colombia lost 3-1 to Romania, and after the match, Gabriel Gómez received death threats and was replaced by Hernan Gaviria in the following game against the USA.
Colombia lost their second game 2-1 to the USA, and defender Andrés Escobar accidentally scored an own goal while trying to intercept a pass by John Harkes. Despite winning their third group stage game 2-0 against Switzerland, Colombia finished at the bottom of the group with three points and failed to progress to the next round.
The team's exit from the World Cup was not the only heartbreak they faced. Six days later, Andrés Escobar was shot dead outside a bar in Medellín, presumably in retaliation for his own goal. The tragic incident shook the football world and highlighted the dangerous influence of drug cartels in Colombian society.
In conclusion, Colombia's 1994 FIFA World Cup journey was one marked by high hopes, internal conflicts, and ultimately, tragedy. The team's performance may not have been up to expectations, but the loss of a player's life in such a brutal manner was a reminder of the deadly consequences of the drug trade in the country.
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