Pekerman backs Falcao as El Tigre breaks World Cup duck
Kazan Arena (Russia), Jun 25 (AFP) Colombia coach Jose Pekerman has tipped Radamel Falcao for more success after the joy of seeing his star striker bag his maiden World Cup goal in a 3-0 win over Poland on Sunday.
"I think this is one of the greatest joys we experienced tonight," Pekerman said when asked how important Falcao's goal was for the team and the country.
Falcao, 32, was cruelly deprived of competing in Brazil four years ago after suffering a serious knee injury while playing for Monaco against an amateur side in the French Cup.
Falcao had to watch on as teammate James Rodriguez emerged as the tournament's top scorer with six goals and the best strike of the tournament as Colombia reached the quarter-finals.
Falcao has dreamed of scoring at the World Cup since his childhood, and after missing Brazil the whole of Colombia has prayed for El Tigre (The Tiger) to make his mark on football's biggest stage.
After Barcelona defender Yerry Mina broke the deadlock with a powerful header in the 40th minute, Falcao made no mistake when he was sent through on goal by a sublime Juan Quintero pass from the right side that saw him coolly beat 'keeper Wojciech Szczesny with the outside of his right boot on 70 minutes.
The thousands of Colombian fans who filled the Kazan Arena erupted with joy, and Colombia's players ran to offer their captain their congratulations.
Pekerman added: "He's a symbol of our team, a symbol for Colombian football. "We always hoped that he would score and that he can be as fit as he was in the match today.
"We want to help him as a team so that he can show all his skill and shine. And I think the fact that today he scored was extremely important not only for today's match but for future matches." Juventus winger Juan Cuadrado capped an impressive night's work for Los Cafeteros (Coffee Makers) by hitting the net five minutes later after a superb cross-field pass by Rodriguez, who overcame a calf niggle to start for Colombia. Colombia now need to beat Senegal in their final group to be sure of a place in the last 16