FIFA 2014

All-conquering Colombia sets sights on Brazil

Colombia have turned from long shots to danger team and produced a star World Cup turn in James Rodriguez as they now plan on beating Brazil.

The 2-0 victory over Uruguay in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday sees Colombia in the quarterfinals of a World Cup tournament for the first time.

Not even their sparkling generation around midfielder Carlos Valderrama and keeper Rene Higuita, who went out to Cameroon in the last 16 in Italy 1990, got that far.

Rodriguez is turning out to be the find of the tournament. Monaco appear fully justified in spending €43 million ($ 61 million) to sign the striker from Porto at the beginning of last season.

The 22-year-old has underlined his goal scoring qualities in Brazil with five from four games, making up for the absence of injured star and Monaco team-mate Radamel Falcao.

Rodriguez’s first in the 28th minute against Uruguay, chesting the ball down before turning to volley in from outside the area, was probably the best so far of the tournament. And he virtually settled the game when escaping defenders to sweep the ball in from close range five minutes after the break.

Rodriguez won the Portuguese Golden Ball award in 2012, becoming the second Colombian after Falcao to win the prize, and his move to Monaco made him the second most expensive Colombian player in history -- again after Falcao.

Another factor of the Colombian success story has been Argentine coach Jose Pekerman, who in early 2012 took over from Leonel Alvarez after the third game of the South American qualifiers following a defeat to Argentina.

The 64-year-old coach, who was in charge of Argentina at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, picked up five wins in their next six games, and qualification for a first World Cup finals since France 1998 was sealed on the penultimate match day.

Pekerman is pleased to have Rodriguez scoring goals but cited a number of others such as midfielder Juan Cuadrado, strikers Teofilo Gutierrez and Jackson Martinez and keeper David Ospina as among those also contributing to Colombia’s success.

“We never lost confidence in our ability to play a good World Cup, and here we are,” Pekerman said. “We never lost hope.” Pekerman’s take on Brazil in Fortaleza on Friday, and the coach sees the hosts strengthened by their penalty shoot-out victory over Chile; and no doubt the hosts will present a formidable challenge to Los Cafeteros.

“They had a very difficult game, but winning those gives you great confidence,” Pekerman said. “We can expect a match with great tension, but at the same time a game with a great technical level.”

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Printable version | May 26, 2020 7:59:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/fifa-2014/allconquering-colombia-sets-sights-on-brazil/article6159972.ece

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