On August 3 of this year, Independiente Medellín and Deportivo Cali met at Atanasio Girardot and the match ended 1 to 1. But the result was anecdotal. At 35 minutes, Linda Caicedo, 16-year-old offensive midfielder from Deportivo Cali took the ball, dribbled four players, knocked out two of them and hit the goal. The ball just brushed the left post but the magic is there in his sole, in his feints, in his dribbles.
Linda was already champion with América de Cali and recently with Deportivo Cali, she was a scorer in the 2019 League and has been called up to the national team. In addition, she is one of the youngest players in the Copa Libertadores and is a figure in her team. From Asunción he spoke with 90min about his present, his future and analyzed the South American tournament.
Deportivo Cali started winning the first two games you played in your debut in the Copa Libertadores. What is the feeling that this beginning leaves you?
We were all a little anxious and nervous about the debut in the Libertadores, but regardless of how we felt we went out to find the games and win. Thank God we got the three points, which is the most important thing in a short tournament because you have to add to each game. So obviously we are very happy.
You are 16 years old and have a great soccer experience, what does it mean to be in the Libertadores for you?
I am very happy, I am adding a little more experience to my career as a footballer. It is very pleasant to be here in this great tournament, where there are great figures, footballers who have already had several tournaments like this one. So I come to learn in the best way and I really want to make history. I want to be champion with Deportivo Cali.
How would you define Deportivo Cali’s style of play in these matches?
We always seek to play well, associate, be very dynamic, maintain unity, that solidarity on and off the field. And it is what they may always see in every game. Perhaps in some encounter the idea of play will be lost, but that union and that solidarity of running in each of the companions will always be seen and you can play. Running and putting will always be present.
With what objective is Deportivo Cali coming to the Cup?
I imagine raising the glass. Obviously you have to work a lot, very hard, complicated games are coming, but it is always with that humility that characterizes us and we go with that clear objective, God willing.
Deportivo Cali was national champion for the first time in history this year, how did you experience the first championship?
This year we had an excellent campaign in the Colombian League and the truth is that we hardly had time to celebrate because it ended and the Libertadores came over, but you can remember it and it makes me very happy to see the great tournament we did. It would be nice to repeat it here in the Libertadores.
“I imagine raising the glass”
How do you see the development of women’s football in Colombia?
We are moving forward, there are more and more proposals and there is more and more desire to want to contribute more, obviously it is a process and we will have to wait a little more years. But just as we as players go out to do our job, we go out to play every game with that love that they give us a good league, obviously respecting decisions, but always wanting more.
Do you have players who are references for you in this Cup?
Well then, more than anything I have heard from Corinthians, for all the instances that have arrived in the Libertadores. Tamires is a very good player. I’ve seen it quite a bit.
This year you were called up to the Colombian national team, you scored a goal in the friendly against Chile, what does integrating the national team represent for you?
It will always be an honor to represent my country, it will always be very pleasant to be with the best of Colombia. It is always a joy to go to learn the national team. The teacher (Nelson Abadía) trusts each of the players a lot, so whenever I’m there I’ll enforce those colors and I’ll give my best.
Next year the Copa América will be in Colombia, how do you imagine that cup playing at home?
It will be very cool. Right now, to the game that we played in the city of Cali, there were enough people to watch us play, so the support of the fan will be fundamental for what that great Copa América will be. Obviously, what remains is to prepare to give a good tournament.
“I dream of winning the Libertadores and going to play abroad”
Manuela Paví and you have formed a great duo on the field of play in the national tournament. She could not travel because she was injured, is it strange to share the court with her?
I have talked about it, precisely, with my colleagues that I really missed. I think that in the League we are an excellent duo, we understood each other very well. So, of course, I really miss her on the field and also on the outside, but now it is simply to support her in this great recovery process that is coming. I know that she will come back stronger, with more enthusiasm and being the great player that she is.
Despite your young age, you have a long career in football, what moment do you remember from time to time in your career?
Oops! Well, right now I would believe that the championship with Deportivo Cali is something that I wanted so much, that I worked so hard for it, that I wanted it so much that I suppose that’s what it is. In other words, I had never wanted a tournament as much as the League with Deportivo Cali was right now. That wanting to win and going out with that pride of representing this shirt, something totally different that I had never felt.
“I had never wanted a tournament as much as this league with Deportivo Cali”
You have a long way to go but also a long way to go, what do you imagine in your football career?
Right now Libertadores is finishing being champion. Then, stay a while longer at Deportivo Cali and go to play abroad. That is my is my dream since I was little. I won’t say which team, heh.