Pekerman hails Yepes
Colombia's 38-year-old defender Mario Yepes earned special praise from coach Jose Pekerman, after helping his side hold on for a 2-1 win over Ivory Coast this morning (Singapore time).
"He was playing against the elite of Europe - Gervinho, Wilfried Bony, Salomon Kalou - all physically strong with great technique," said Pekerman, referring to Ivory Coast's European-based continent.
"Yepes (above) has a great mentality. He has been very strong and he is a reference point for his teammates - it was a top-level performance," added the Argentinian.
Pekerman also waxed lyrical about playmaker James Rodriguez, who scored the first goal with a rare header.
"He has reached the very highest standards among players with his characteristics," he told reporters.
"He is mature, he has commitment, he can finish, he has vision, he can shoot and today he scored with a header to add something else to his technical qualities."
Colombia, making their first appearance since 1998, have a maximum six points in Group C after winning two matches at a World Cup for the first time, although they are not yet certain of a place in the last 16.
"We have had two wins with players who are taking part in their first World Cup which is very positive for us, but we can't get ahead of ourselves," said Pekerman.
"After many years of frustration, we have given satisfaction to the public, who have great passion for football. It's been very painful missing out on this event."
Ivory Coast coach Sabri Lamouchi said his team did not deserve to lose and a draw would have been a fair result.
"We need to recover and be proud of ourselves," said the Frenchman.
"I feel we lost unfairly today and we need to fight for a victory against Greece.
"A very experienced Colombia team waited for us to make mistakes and we did make mistakes."
Ivory Coast have never made it to the knockout round, finishing third in their group on their debut in 2006 and again in South Africa four years ago.
Colombia play Japan next Wednesday morning in Cuiaba, while Ivory Coast take on Greece in Fortaleza. - Reuters.
Juan Cuadrado has now provided more assists (three) at a single World Cup than any other Colombian since 1966.
Colombia have already equalled their record of goals scored during a World Cup (five, in 1962).