Colombia's star striker Radamel Falcao is officially out of the 2014 World Cup as his team submitted their final 23-man squad without the injured forward on the list.
Coach Jose Pekerman made the announcement at a news conference on Monday from the team's training facility in Buenos Aires, Argentina, dealing a serious blow to their chances at the tournament.
Falcao's presence had been in doubt ever since he underwent knee surgery in January after a Coupe de France game with his club, Monaco. But Colombians had been hoping for a miracle recovery in time for the World Cup as Falcao posted photos of himself on social media taking nine-kilometre (six-mile) runs.
"We can say to all of Colombia that he did more than was within his power to play," said Pekerman. "He deserved the right for us to wait and keep the hope alive."
The 28-year-old said that as he lacks match fitness, "the smartest thing to do" is to stay on the sidelines. He said he still plans to travel to Brazil to cheer on his teammates.
"I had great hope to play but, well, one has to support the team from outside and wish it the best," Falcao said.
Falcao's nine goals in the South American qualifiers paved the way for Colombia's return to the World Cup for the first time since 1998. The team make their debut in Group C on June 14 in Belo Horizonte against Greece.
Colombia was a favorite to win the group, which includes Japan, Greece and Ivory Coast. .
Colombia's 23-man World Cup squad
David Ospina (Nice), Faryd Mondragon (Deportivo Cali), Camilo Vargas (Santa Fe); Camilo Zuniga (Napoli), Pablo Armero (Napoli), Cristian Zapata (AC Milan), Mario Yepes (Atalanta), Carlos Valdes (Philadelphia Union - on loan to San Lorenzo), Santiago Arias (PSV Eindhoven), Eder Alvarez-Balanta (River Plate); James Rodriguez (Monaco), Abel Aguilar (Toulouse), Carlos Sanchez (Elche), Fredy Guarin (Inter Milan), Juan Fernando Quintero (Porto), Aldo Ramirez (Morelia), Alexander Mejia (Atletico Nacional), Victor Ibarbo (Cagliari), Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (Fiorentina); Jackson Martinez (Porto), Teofilo Gutierrez (River Plate), Carlos Bacca (Sevilla), Adrian Ramos (Borussia Dortmund)
Radamel Falcao ruled out of World Cup
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