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)
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.