Carlos Queiroz of Portugal smiles during his presentation as new head coach of the Colombian national soccer team at the headquarters of the Colombian Football Federation (FCF) in Bogota, capital of Colombia, Feb. 7, 2019. (Xinhua/Jhon Paz)
BOGOTA, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- Portuguese Carlos Queiroz vowed to build on the legacy left by his predecessor Jose Pekerman after he was officially unveiled as Colombia's new head coach on Thursday.
The Colombian Football Federation (FCF) identified the 65-year-old as its preferred candidate late last year but had to wait until his contract with Iran's national team expired after last month's Asian Cup.
"It's an honor for me to accept this job. I will do my best (...) to continue the development that Colombia has shown in recent years," Queiroz told a news conference here.
"Continuing the legacy left by the previous manager [Pekerman] and working hard to maintain the prestige and reputation that Colombia has today is my first priority and my obligation," he said.
Colombia had been without a head coach since September, when Pekerman stepped down after six and a half years in charge.
Queiroz and the FCF finalized details of a five-year contract this week and the manager will reportedly earn an annual salary of around three million US dollars.
His first match in charge will be a friendly against Japan in Tokyo on March 22. The FCF said it is trying to schedule another friendly in Asia four days later.
Queiroz, a former goalkeeper whose coaching career spans three decades, said he would build his team around Colombia's most experienced players: striker Radamel Falcao, midfielder James Rodriguez and goalkeeper David Ospina.
"They are the heart and soul of the team, so I think it is very sensible to start everything around [them]," said Queiroz, whose 30-year coaching career has included spells in charge of Real Madrid, South Africa and Sporting Lisbon.
"They are an important part of my analysis and observations. James was the first player I spoke to. We traveled together to Madrid and talked for a while. I have to talk more with him."
Queiroz's first major tournament as Colombia coach will be the Copa America in Brazil, starting on June 14. The Cafeteros have been drawn in Group B alongside Argentina, Qatar and Paraguay.