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Jun 19, 2014

Pekerman: Colombia meet potential

The ESPN FC panel heap praise on Colombia's poise and ability despite having a young and inexperienced team.

Colombia coach Jose Pekerman viewed his team's victory against Ivory Coast on Thursday as confirmation of the players' potential and ambition.

James Rodriguez and Juan Quintero gave Colombia a two-goal advantage after a goalless first half, and Colombia held on for the victory after Gervinho reduced the defecit for the Elephants.

With two wins from their first two games and a plus-4 goal difference, Colombia are nearly assured of a place in the knockout round, though Pekerman said his side would not celebrate until their place secured.

"It's still soon," he said. "We just completed the game and we must analyse what happened. It was a very hard match. We will see how we solve the situation from this game and how we deal with it as we move on."

Still, Pekerman said the top of Group C is right where his players expected to be after two matches.

"We are learning in many instances [that] to be in a World Cup, we have a unified team and what we promise we can deliver," Pekerman said. "We have never lacked for courage, valor. Today we faced a difficult rival and we prevailed.

"Colombia are in shape and we hope we can grow. That is the way a World Cup is, we have to get used to it. We have lots of young players who keep growing and this helps them a lot."

James Rodriguez scored his second goal of the tournament to help Colombia beat Ivory Coast on Thursday.

Rodriguez credited his coach's influence in bringing Colombia back to global prominence, after the country failed to qualify for the previous three World Cups.

"Pekerman has been vital," Rodriguez said. "Ever since he's been with us he wants us to play well. He wants us to play excellent football and this is what we've done in the process."

Rodriguez's headed goal from a corner, his second tally of the World Cup, spurred Colombia's hot spell in the second half, but he said he's not interested in personal accolades.

"I am happy because we beat a tough rival, with great players. Happy about that and that we won," James Rodriguez said.

"The only thing I want is to help the team win, and if that is by scoring goals, for me that would be the best."

The raucous crowd heavily favoured the South Americans, and Rodriguez credited the supporters with giving Colombia a needed boost.

"It seems to be good when you have so many people rooting for you. This was extraordinary and this was very much in our favor so that we could win," he said.

"I believe the entire team was expecting the support from so many people. It allows us to play well."

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