Jose Pekerman has warned Colombia they will face an ‘in harmony’ England side in the World Cup second round.
Colombia defeated Senegal 1-0 in Samara on Thursday to secure their qualification as winners of Group H, before a much-changed England, already through, finished second in Group G following their 1-0 loss to Belgium.
Those results set up a last-16 meeting in Moscow on Tuesday, from which the victors will advance to a quarter-final with Sweden or Switzerland, in what is perceived to be the easier half of the draw.
But Pekerman says there are no straightforward games once the tournament reaches the knockout phase.
‘I would always answer in the same way. We know any team that reaches the last 16 is good, the 16 best teams in the world,’ he said.
‘Obviously, they can have a good day or an even better day but the whole squad operates at a certain level.
‘England are a young team that is in harmony, very confident, they have excellent individual players and they’ve managed to pass the group stage quite comfortably.
‘I’m sure now a different type of match is heading our way. These will be to-the-death matches, so these are extreme situations, [you have] to play a great game from the beginning.
‘England has what it takes and it’s going to be a match in which Colombia will also be confident to get a good result.’
Colombia’s progress spelt the end for Senegal, who finished with an identical record to Japan but were eliminated due to accruing more yellow cards than their rivals.
‘We all knew when we came to the World Cup that these were the rules,’ Pekerman said. ‘There are clear rules and a clear understanding, you don’t often get teams that are so even and from the beginning, you could tell this would be an even group.
‘Had we been in their shoes, we would also be quite disappointed because one can sometimes think this is not a part of football but it happens and sometimes you finish a World Cup final on penalties, as in Italy vs Brazil [in 1994].
‘To lose a World Cup final on penalties is extremely hard and you need to accept the result, somehow you need to find a winner.
‘But when it comes to cards, I guess players will have to start thinking about how important a card can be and as a coach, we should also start thinking about this.’
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