BOGOTÁ (AP) — Forward Luis Muriel was ruled out of Colombia’s World Cup qualifiers against Peru and Argentina because he was not in “optimal health.”
Atalanta, the Italian Serie A club where Muriel plays, has been affected by an outbreak of coronavirus. The Bergamo team dispensed with several players in Saturday’s match that drew 0-0 away against Lazio.
Hours later, the Colombian Football Federation reported in a statement that the Atalanta medical department had notified it that the 30-year-old striker could not travel to Colombia. The entity did not go into details about the condition and did not mention whether a replacement will be called.
“The coaching staff of the Colombian National Team wishes them a speedy recovery, hoping that they can return to their activities as soon as possible,” added the federation.
Muriel has scored six goals in 20 games for Atalanta this season. He has also scored three goals in the South American qualifiers. The Colombian team has five games in a row without scoring.
Colombia will host Peru in the Caribbean city of Barranquilla on January 28 and, four days later, will visit Argentina in Córdoba.
Heading into the last four dates of the qualifiers, Colombia is in fourth place with 17 points and one more goal. Peru is fifth with the same units and minus five. Chile and Uruguay (both with 16), Bolivia (15) and Paraguay (both with 13) trail behind.
Ecuador, with 23 points, escorts Brazil and Argentina, already classified.
The first four from South America directly access Qatar 2022 and the fifth must play an intercontinental playoff to access the tournament that will begin in November.