FILE - In this June 19, 2014, file photo, Colombia's James Rodriguez, center, dances with teammates in celebration after scoring during the group C World Cup soccer match between Colombia and Ivory Coast at the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia, Brazil. The euphoria in soccer-mad Colombia is deafening, and wonderfully contagious, ahead of Friday’s do-or-die World Cup match against host Brazil. Not since Colombia drubbed Argentina 5-0 in a 1993 World Cup qualifier has the South American nation of 48 million been so enthralled by the beautiful game. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe, File)
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FORTALEZA, Brazil— Colombia has been playing the exciting brand of football that Brazilians believe their team should be playing at this World Cup.
They’ve also been dancing after goals, bringing a spirit of fun to the pitch. Fullback Camilo Zuniga puts it down to coach Jose Pekerman’s philosophy of mixing amusement with responsibility.
Zuniga, who will be a key figure in marking Brazil forward Neymar in a quarterfinal Friday, says Pekerman “helped us believe in ourselves … He drilled into our heads that a Colombian with the ball should have fun, that he shouldn’t have to play with pressure.”
But Zuniga, who likes to attack down the flanks, says his first responsibility as a defender will be to contain Neymar and help the team keep a clean sheet.