World Cup 2014: Jose Pekerman’s Colombia can outstrip the class of 1990

 

Colombia have their sights on the last 16 already, and beyond that a quarter-final probably against Brazil, but first they must confirm their status as winners of Group C tonight.

It would take an unlikely combination of results for Colombia to finish second: they would need to lose badly to Japan in Cuiaba while Ivory Coast beat Greece comfortably in Fortaleza. The latter result is plausible but the former is not; Colombia have proven themselves an excellent team and can legitimately dream of going deep into the competition from here.

With the pace and skill of Victor Ibarbo and Juan Cuadrado on the wings, and the delicate direction of James Rodriguez in the middle, Colombia have been very good, proving themselves better than the celebrated teams of 1994 and 1998 who went out in the group stages. They have matched the achievements of the side who reached the last 16 in 1990 and could well exceed them.

Coach Jose Pekerman has been both cultivating and dampening these hopes, inspiring these players to play brilliant fluid football while not allowing expectations to spiral out of control.

“The memories are very well kept in our minds and our hearts,” Pekerman said of comparisons with the 1990 side. “We will not get carried away thinking we can go further than them. We still have a game against Japan to think about.”

If Colombia play as well as they did in their first two games, Japan should not cause them too many problems. They have a dogged, physical back-four which should prove too canny for the Japanese attackers, just as Greece’s defence did in Japan’s second game. At the other end of the pitch, Colombia can score goals against anyone, with Jackson Martinez and Juan Quintero, among talented others, waiting on the bench. One point will be enough to seal first place, and a meeting with the second-placed team from Group D.

Japan cannot win the group but if they did pull off an unlikely win against Colombia today they could still finish in second place. They would need Ivory Coast to drop points against Greece, while avoiding being overtaken by Greece on goal difference.

 

It has been an underwhelming performance from Alberto Zaccheroni’s Japanese team so far. They took the lead against Ivory Coast through Keisuke Honda before folding in the second half when Didier Drogba came on, conceding two quick goals and losing 2-1. Against Greece they had more than enough of the ball but could not create chances in a goalless draw. Colombia will be no kinder today.

It would take a few surprises, then, for Ivory Coast not to progress today and boost African representation in the knock-out phase. They have been impressive so far, playing two tight games, winning one 2-1 and losing the other by the same scoreline.

Coach Sabri Lamouchi is still leaving Didier Drogba on the bench, but as Wilfried Bony has been dangerous enough up front there is no obvious case to change. A victory for them would ensure progress, while putting pressure on Colombia for first place. A draw against a Greece side limited at the back and up front would probably be enough too.

News
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
tv
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits