4:15 PM UTC
Game Details
5:00 PM UTC
Game Details
Ivory Coast
6:00 PM UTC
Game Details
New Zealand
6:35 AM UTC Mar 28, 2017
Game Details
Game Details
By ESPN Staff

Pekerman: Colombia close-knit group

Colombia coach Jose Pekerman credited his players' superior ability to work together as the secret of his team's success at the World Cup.

Pekerman's men won their third straight match and cruised to the top of Group C after controlling Japan 4-1 on Tuesday.

Match 37
Game Details

"We are very happy. We have won a very difficult match, as expected. We feel confident because we have proved once again that Colombia is a very close-knit group. It is wonderful to have a team like this."

Pekerman said his players have succeeded because they all bought into the system of the national team.

"To be able to play a World Cup, you have to prepare your team," Pekerman said. "My players know that they have to play at a very intense pace. They need to concentrate on every little detail and have to play together.

"We have to keep the level and identity. To keep the identity, the group has to work, sometimes quietly. Sometimes the players who may not be on the pitch always respect the plans I've given them. They have understood this system and have shown this over the three matches and this is why we have results."

Colombia will play Uruguay in the round of 16, and if they survive that, another South American opponent awaits -- the winner of Brazil and Chile.

James Rodriguez has scored in all three of Colombia's matches.

"We wanted to put all our energy into this match. We wanted to show that we don't just sit back. We fight to the end and respect fair play. I know that we're going to face one of the biggest teams in South America in Uruguay. They always play well and have a rich history. They have many experienced players and we know they never give up. They are coherent and are a strong team."

"We are developing and evolving after every match. We are satisfied and are keeping pace. Individual players are performing as expected and we are very pleased with this experience in general."

Pekerman singled out the steady performance of James Rodriguez, who has scored in each of Colombia's three matches and capped the scoring on Tuesday.

"What James has done today simply demonstrates what we expected from him," Pekerman said.


Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.