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Soccer-Colombia's focus key in win over Greece - Pekerman

Reuters

By Karolos Grohmann

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil, June 14 (Reuters) - Colombia kept their focus when the going got tough against Greece on Saturday, coach Jose Pekerman said, and got their reward with a 3-0 Group C victory on their return to the World Cup finals after a 16-year absence.

"It is a dream come true for me," the Argentine said after a flamboyant attacking display.

"We wanted to be focused, play inspiring football with good skills. My players met all the objectives we had set out and that is very positive for going forward in this competition.

"This is how we planned this match. Some things turned out the way we wanted, some things didn't, but we were extremely focused and showed that we are here to play a good World Cup."

The South Americans, one of the dark horses in this tournament after clinching second spot in the qualifiers, had to soak up considerable pressure after taking a fifth minute lead through Pablo Amero.

Even after going two behind to Teofilo Gutierrez's goal just before the hour the Greeks kept pushing forward and created plenty of chances before James Rodriguez scored a third in stoppage time.

"We could have kept our cool a bit more and defended a bit better," Pekerman told reporters. "But this result is really important if we want to remain in the tournament. We showed that even when it is hard we keep focused."

Pekerman said Colombia, who next play Ivory Coast and then take on Japan, had "waited a very long time to play in the World Cup".

"I tried to keep my players calm and inspire them because they are new to this.

"This win was very good for us because Greece are very experienced and at times there was a big difference between us and them because they were playing really well.

"What I have learned today is that we have to keep calm and believe in ourselves. Sometimes we did not react fast enough and Greece had several chances.

"But even when Greece were playing really well and we kept losing possession we still stuck to our strategy and our gameplan. All my players played the role they had to. They have done exactly what we expected of them," he said. (Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Justin Palmer)

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