BOGOTA (Reuters) - Outstanding River Plate defender Eder Alvarez Balanta is one of two uncapped players picked by Colombia for their World Cup warm-up games against Belgium and the Netherlands later this month.
Central defender Balanta, a 20-year-old who has shown great promise in the Argentine first division, owes his call-up by coach Jose Pekerman on Thursday to the absence through injury of captain Mario Yepes.
Pekerman also included forward Victor Ibarbo of Cagliari in a 24-man squad missing injured attacking midfielder Juan Fernando Quintero, goalkeeper David Ospina and fullback Camilo Zuniga.
"The national team start their work for the World Cup from now. Time is short but it's a challenge to be able to do so with the dream of having a good Brazil 2014 tournament," Argentine Pekerman told a news conference.
"The players know they need competition and so they must choose their future well to work to the full at their clubs."
Colombia, who will be playing in their first finals for 16 years having qualified in second place behind Argentina from the South American group, face Belgium in Brussels on November 14 and the Dutch in Amsterdam five days later.
Goalkeepers: Camilo Vargas (Independiente Santa Fe), Faryd Mondragon (Deportivo Cali)
Defenders: Pablo Armero (Napoli), Cristian Zapata (AC Milan), Santiago Arias (PSV Eindhoven), Stefan Medina (Atletico Nacional), Luis Amaranto Perea (Cruz Azul), Eder Alvarez Balanta (River Plate), Carlos Valdes (Independiente Santa Fe)
Midfielder: Fredy Guarin (Inter Milan), Juan Cuadrado (Fiorentina), Abel Aguilar (Toulouse), Carlos Sanchez (Elche), Macnelly Torres (Al-Shabab), James Rodriguez (Monaco), Aldo Leao Ramirez (Morelia), Edwin Valencia (Fluminense), Alexander Mejia (Atletico Nacional)
Forwards: Radamel Falcao (Monaco), Carlos Bacca (Sevilla), Teofilo Gutierrez (River Plate), Jackson Martinez (Porto), Victor Ibarbo (Cagliari), Luis Fernando Muriel (Udinese)
(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Rex Gowar in Buenos Aires; editing by Toby Davis)