BELO HORIZONTE, June 14: Star striker Radamel Falcao may be missing the World Cup due to injury but he will still be in Belo Horizonte on Saturday to cheer on his team-mates against Greece, coach Jose Pekerman said Saturday.
Monaco forward Falcao and veteran former captain Luis Perea, who is also injured, will both watch the side’s opening Group C match.
“This is a real group, it’s a family. Tomorrow (Saturday) you will see that Falcao and Perea will be there with the team when they could be on holidays,” said the Argentine coach.
“It’s always been a very united group, a family, and we deal with problems like a family.
“We’re not talking about injuries any more, we’re talking about players.
“I really believe in this team and from here on in we’re working on every situation we could come across on the pitch.”
But Pekerman did admit that he would still prefer to have 60-million euro ($80m) forward Falcao on the pitch.
“What team that is here wouldn’t want Falcao as their centre-forward? That’s obvious, but we want to look forward,” he said.
Falcao tore his cruciate knee ligament in January in a French Cup match and has not been able to play since.
Looking forward to Saturday’s game at the Mineirao stadium, Pekerman said he was expecting a tough challenge from Portuguese coach Fernando Santos’s Greece, even if the style they play isn’t generally to the taste of South American audiences.
“They’re a very competitive team who are aggressive and know very well how to play to their strengths,” said Pekerman.
“On top of that they have a coach who is consolidating them in this final stage, improving them with new things while maintaining their identity.
“There’s no doubt we’re going to come up against a tough rival. Traditionally this is the toughest type of rival for Colombia.
“They’re very solid teams with a lot of determination and strong mentality.
“They’re not afraid of being reproached for their style, they accept it.
“In South America we think there is only one way to watch football, aesthetically, the most beautiful, but the most beautiful has to be joined to other strengths to be able to compete.”
Even so, Pekerman is not about to compromise when it comes to Colombia’s style.
“We will maintain our style, our idiosyncracy, keeping the same idea.
“The idea in Colombia is always to try to have more possession than the other team, to be effective without losing our defensive shape.
“That’s what’s brought us results, the statistics don’t lie! We know how to score lots of goals without conceding many.”