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World Cup 2014: Colombia over Falcao, ready to 'hurt' Greeks

World Cup 2014: Colombia over Falcao, ready to 'hurt' Greeks

Colombia have recovered from losing top striker Falcao to injury with others in their attack-minded team hoping to

  • Reuters
  • Last Updated: June 14, 2014, 10:16 AM IST
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Belo Horizonte Colombia have recovered from losing top striker Radamel Falcao to injury with others in their attack-minded team hoping to "hurt" Greece in Saturday's Group C opener, coach Jose Pekerman said.

Though Falcao's absence is a huge blow for the South Americans in their first World Cup since 1998, they still have a wealth of offensive talent with the likes of Teofilo Gutierrez, Jackson Martinez and Carlos Bacca.

"I can't hide it. I would like to have Falcao here. We suffered a lot, we got it out of our system, we handled it like a family," Pekerman told reporters before his team warmed up at the Mineirao stadium in Belo Horizonte.

"Now let's not talk about it any more, let's focus on the potential of the other players. We are only concentrating on how we can hurt Greece," he said.

The coach said Falcao, out of the tournament with a ligament injury, would be present for Saturday's game to encourage the team.

Having come second in South American qualifiers, Colombia are in the World Cup finals for the first time since three consecutive appearances in the 1990s with flamboyant players like goalkeeper Rene Higuita and blond-permed midfielder Carlos Valderrama.

"Colombia are back after a long time. Our team is up to the job of representing all Colombians," said Pekerman, 64, an Argentine who played football in Colombia, and also led Argentina at the World Cup finals in Germany in 2006.

With the majority of an experienced squad playing for European teams, Colombia are favourites to beat the Greeks and top Group C that also includes Ivory Coast and Japan.

Both the coach and holding midfielder Abel Aguilar oozed confidence at a final news conference before Saturday's match.

"We're just trying to enjoy this as much as we can. We've been to Under-20 championships but this is different," a smiling Aguilar said. "It's a privilege just to be here, we're trying to enjoy ever second, every moment."

Greece, who 10 years ago staged a major upset by becoming European champions, have a reputation as a hard-working and stubborn team, conceding just four goals in their 10 qualifiers.

"We have a plan, we won't betray our (offensive) style," Aguilar said. "We'll go out there with confidence and attitude."

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