Football: Falcao harbours Russia 2018 "dream" after Monaco renaissance

Monaco's Colombian forward Radamel Falcao celebrates after scoring his second goal during the French L1 football match Monaco (ASM) vs Strasbourg at Louis II Stadium in Monaco, on Sept 16, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

Monaco (AFP) - Colombian striker Radamel Falcao is aiming to realise his "dream" of playing in a World Cup next year, after continuing his red-hot start to the Ligue 1 season for Monaco on Saturday.

The 31-year-old scored a brace in the French champions' 3-0 win over Strasbourg to make it nine goals in just six league games so far this term.

Falcao rediscovered his best form after returning to the Stade Louis II last season, scoring 30 goals as Monaco won the Ligue 1 title and reached the Champions League semi-finals.

That followed a bitterly disappointing two years on loan in England, where he was derided as a flop and scored just five times in 36 Premier League appearances for Manchester United and Chelsea.

But that bad spell came as he struggled to return to full fitness after missing out on the 2014 World Cup with a cruciate knee ligament injury.

Amazingly, Colombia's record goalscorer has yet to feature at a World Cup Finals at all, after they missed out on the 2010 play-off by one point.

"(The World Cup) is a dream for me," said Falcao.

"I am very motivated to help Colombia qualify for the World Cup and then I want to play it. I'm getting ready for that.

"I feel better, I feel better than last year. It's important to me, and the more months that go by, the better I'll feel.

"Yes, of course I thought I would come back (from the injury). I am always positive with a mentality to work a lot."

Jose Pekerman's side are looking good to reach next summer's finals in Russia as they sit third in South American qualifying, and if Falcao can keep up his recent form, they could even better their run to the 2014 quarter-finals.

"I'm sure he will score more goals than last season," Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim said of his captain.

"It's his second year with me and I'm confident that he's back up to what he was at Porto or Atletico (Madrid). I did not think I had such a good player at the start of the season."

But for now, Falcao, who scored 70 goals in two seasons for Atletico between 2011-2013, is focused on scoring as many goals as possible in a league where Paris Saint-Germain's (PSG) trio of Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe will be vying with him for the Golden Boot.

"All strikers dream of finishing as the top scorer in the league," Falcao, who has twice been top scorer in the Europa League but never in a domestic league, admitted.

"I scored 30 goals last season, and this season I'm like new. We're in September, but I hope to continue like this."

After the 18-year-old Mbappe's departure from Monaco to PSG on deadline day, Falcao shoulders even more responsibility than he did last year.

The torrid time in England seems a long while ago now, as he has already scored a hat-trick and two doubles in Ligue 1 this season.

"A year and a half ago, 80 per cent of people thought it was over (for him). Today, he is at a high level," smiled Jardim.

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