Colombia boss Jose Pekerman’s priority is avoiding red cards

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Colombia manager Jose Pekerman has revealed his wish-list for the team’s next World Cup match against Poland – and top of that list is keeping all 11 players on the pitch.

In a disappointing 2-1 loss to Japan in Colombia’s first match, the South Americans were reduced to ten men, following the dismissal of midfielder Carlos Sanchez, and a goal behind in the opening minutes.

Carlos Sanchez of Colombia is sent off by referee Damir Skomina in their match against Japan. Picture: Getty.

Carlos Sanchez of Colombia is sent off by referee Damir Skomina in their match against Japan. Picture: Getty.

Pekerman has noticed that it has been very difficult to overturn deficits at this year’s tournament. Switzerland’s 2-1 victory over Serbia on Friday was the first game to see a side come from behind to win.

“When there are teams ahead with an advantage, it’s not easy in the World Cup to turn things around,” Pekerman told reporters yesterday on the eve of the Group H match at Kazan Arena.

Both Poland and Colombia lost their opening match, to Senegal and Japan respectively, and could be eliminated with another loss. Pekerman was bombarded with questions about his line-up and hinted that playmaker James Rodriguez could be given a starting role. Rodriguez, the top scorer at the 2014 World Cup in Colombia’s surprising run to the quarter-finals, was used as a second-half substitute during the defeat by Japan after being hampered by a calf injury.

“There is still a number of things we need to fine tune, but hopefully he will be ready,” said Pekerman.

The manager then revealed a four-point list of things that he believes could help Colombia register a win.

“No.1 thing, football is 11 against 11, this is our priority, this is how football works,” Pekerman said.

“No.2, we want to be able to have a number of players in top shape. I’m talking about vital players.

“No.3, we need to regain our confidence, the one we had coming to Russia.

“No.4 is harmony. We all want to achieve the same goal, and we can feel that harmony now.”