ColombiaCoach: Fernando González Gutiérrez
Qualification for Georgia 2019: Winners of 1st IHF South and Central American Emerging Nations Championship, 2018
History at Emerging Nations Championship: 2015-2017: DNQ
Colombia arrive in Tbilisi as debutants at the IHF Emerging Nations Championship, following their title win at the South and Central American Emerging Nations Championship last October. With the bulk of their international experience gained in their own continent, the tournament in Georgia will be a new experience for Colombia.
The achievement of winning the trophy at the South and Central American Emerging Nations Championship marked significant progress for the young Colombian Handball Federation, which was formed in 2010. Handball was first featured at the Colombian National Games in 2015 and, in 2017, the CHF responded with a new executive committee and collaboration with, among other bodies, the IHF. The resultant improvements in training processes and development strategy are clear to see, with Colombia participating in several major events in recent years.
The national squad is led by 41-year-old Fernando Gonzalez Gutierrez. His first big success with the team was at the South and Central American Emerging Nations Championship last October, when Colombia claimed the title after defeating Paraguay in the final. At that event, Colombia goalkeeper Julian Alberto Villa Arango recorded the most saves of any in his position, at a 45% save rate.
The coach also guided the team to fifth place at the 2019 IHF Men’s Junior World Championship qualification event held in Palmira in April. That same month, he finished as runner-up with the senior side in the Last Chance Tournament on the path to the 2019 Pan American Games. Colombia missed out on places at those events.
Gutierrez led the team to ninth place at the 2018 Pan American Championship in Greenland and fifth at the 2018 Central American Games. In addition, he has worked with the women’s national team. Before coaching the Colombia national side, Gutierrez worked in Spain’s ASOBAL League and won multiple titles in the UAE.
Players to watch in the Colombia squad at Georgia 2019 include Santiago Mosquera Mayo, who has represented his nation since 2014. He also played the 2017 IHF Super Globe in Qatar with Sydney University as well as in the domestic leagues in both Portugal and North Macedonia. In Colombia, he has been recognised with numerous individual awards including All-star Team nominations and MVP titles.
24-year-old Sebastián Restrepo is another who brings international experience, having played for clubs in Italy and Portugal. Restrepo was the second top scorer at the 2018 Pan American Championship, though Colombia ranked ninth.
One of the most exciting prospects is 17-year-old Jesus Hurtado, who has just signed with Portuguese club Porto, after being part of the Colombia squad that played both the 2018 Emerging Nations and Pan American Championship.
“The objectives are clear for the technical staff and the board of directors of the Colombian Federation, led by Victor Manuel Ramos: to achieve the best performance in Colombia in an event of this category throughout history and to strengthen the group of players around the idea that has built since the arrival of coach González,” states the Colombian Handball Federation regarding their goals at Georgia 2019.
Group at Georgia 2019: Group A (Colombia, PR of China, Azerbaijan, Great Britain, Cuba, India)