If Jose Pekerman and Edwin Cardona could turn back time, they would probably cancel the friendly match against South Korea in November 2017. In that game, Cardona was involved in an incident with the Korean players. As a response, Cardona made a mocking face that was later considered by FIFA as a racist act. He was suspended for five matches and still hoped to play at the World Cup.
Pekerman had different plans. He decided that he would not forgive him and Cardona was left out of the final squad for Russia. Colombia was eliminated later in the round of 16 against England, as the Englishmen stopped Juan Fernando Quintero, and James Rodriguez was not fully fit. The absence of a player like Cardona was looked crucial at that moment.
Cardona was marked as one of the promising players in Colombia since he was young. He brought his magic touch and skills in every club he played, and his talent was never in doubt. Saying that Cardona is more talented than James Rodriguez is a common opinion in Colombia. His abilities could have been enough to make a decent career in Europe, but his temper and problematic behavior prevented it.
While Jose Pekerman was the manager of Colombia, Cardona got his first chance in the national team. It was during the 2018 World Cup qualifiers when he scored three goals in 15 caps, two of them were last-minute winning goals against Bolivia and Paraguay. He also got the the call-ups to the Colombian squads for the Copa America in 2015 and 2016. The possible co-operation of a trio with James Rodriguez, Edwin Cardona and Juan Cuadrado, alongside with Radamel Falcao in the front, made the fans feel optimistic. Then came the incident against South Korea.
Instead of learning from the incident against the Koreans and focus back to football, Cardona found himself in more trouble. While he played in Boca Juniors, he was accused by two women who claimed that Cardona and his teammate, Frank Fabra, for allegedly attacking them. Both were suspended during the police investigation, and even that they both were found not guilty, Cardona's career was affected. European clubs that were interested in Cardona decided to give up. His manager in Boca Juniors, Guillermo Barros Schelotto, chose to leave him out of the squad for the Copa Libertadores final. That was his last moment in Argentina.
After Boca Juniors decided that they would not buy Cardona, he returned to Pachuca in January 2019. He didn't want to play there, but in this situation, he decided to start from scratch. The fans forgave him, and Cardona is making one of the best seasons of his career. He scored six goals and assisted 11 more, leading Pachuca to the playoffs as one of the best players in the squad.
It was enough for Colombia's new coach, Carlos Queiroz, to invite him to the final squad for the 2019 Copa America. In the friendly match against Panama, Cardona was the best player on the pitch, and you couldn't feel that he was absent. His cooperation with James Rodrigues and Radamel Falcao brought hope among the fans, and since Quintero will miss the tournament, Cardona will have an important role in the team.
He also knows that at the age of 26, it might be his last chance to move to Europe. If he will succeed in staying focused, Colombia will be one of the favorites in the tournament and Cardona will be able to make his biggest dream come true: to play at the World Cup.