There aren’t many international managers who can afford to overlook 30-goal-a-season strikers.
Yet, that’s just what Carlos Queiroz did.
It came as something of a surprise considering he was involved in the former Real Madrid manager’s first squad. Morelos turned out in friendlies against Japan and South Korea, as his dream of playing in South America’s premier competition looked set to be realised.
Yet, ill-discipline finally caught up with him. His red card against Celtic in March and subsequent four-match ban seemed to change Quieroz’s stance on the player he had previously labelled ‘the future’ of Colombian football [Daily Record].
As things stand after the group stages of the Copa, though, few could argue with the manager’s decision.
La Tricolor defeated Paraguay 1-0 on Sunday, to finish top of Group B. That was a third win on the bounce following a 2-0 win against Argentina and a 1-0 triumph over Qatar.
Those selected ahead of Morelos are coming up with the goods so far. Duvan Zapata, who spent last season with Atlanta, has scored twice, while Roger Martinez of Club America netted against Argentina.
Even when you factor in friendlies, Colombia have been near flawless without Morelos. They have scored ten and conceded none, winning their last five fixtures.
It’s an outstanding record for a team who must now fancy their chances of going all the way.
As for Morelos, he’s with the Rangers squad in Portugal knowing he’ll need a remarkable 2019/20 if he’s to feature again for his country any time soon.