As World Cup comebacks go, coach Jose Pekerman admitted he could not have asked for anything more from his Colombia side after they ended a 16-year exile from football’s biggest stage with an impressive show of quality in the 3-0 Group C win over Greece.
It was not just the three points but the manner in which they were earned that delighted Pekerman as Colombia showed positive intentions and no little attacking flair in Belo Horizonte. “I’m very happy as it was our debut, with players who’ve never played in a World Cup, so it’s a great satisfaction,” he said. “We were very focused and were able to show that we’ve come to produce a good World Cup. We were able to keep our identity, playing with our technique and flair.”
Colombia, in their first World Cup game since France 98, hit the ground running as goals from West Ham United’s Pablo Armero, Teo Gutierrez and James Rodriguez secured the country’s biggest victory in finals history. Both Armero and Rodriguez’s strikes came following cute build-up play as Colombia shrugged off in impressive fashion the absence of injured star striker Radamel Falcao.
“The team showed the qualities they have,” added Pekerman, who had previously coached his native Argentina at the 2006 tournament. “We have the ability to get to the opposition goal, to create play, to make chances. The important thing today is that even in a moment when Greece grew into the game and we were losing possession, the team stayed solid. This is very important in this type of game – we kept our calm and every player fulfilled their duty for the team.”
The South Americans even provided an early candidate for the tournament’s best goal celebration with a joyous touchline dance after Armero’s opener at a stadium packed with Colombians. “They give us confidence, it is a big motivation,” Peckerman said of the impressive support. “It was very positive and we want to keep it up in next game against Ivory Coast.”Reuse content