Soccer-Pekerman heaps praise on Colombia's defensive rock Yepes


By Brian Homewood

BRASILIA, June 19 (Reuters) - Colombia's 38-year-old defender Mario Yepes earned special praise from coach Jose Pekerman after helping his side hold on for a 2-1 win over Ivory Coast on Thursday.

"He was playing against the elite of Europe, Gervinho, Wilfried Bony, Salomon Kalou, all physically strong with great technique," said Pekerman, referring to Ivory Coast's European-based continent.

"Yepes has a great mentality. He has been very strong and he is a reference point for his team mates, it was a top-level performance," added the Argentine.

Pekerman also waxed lyrical about playmaker James Rodriguez, who scored the first goal with a rare header.

"He has reached the very highest standards among players with his characteristics," he told reporters.

"He is mature, he has commitment, he can finish, he has vision, he can shoot and today he scored with a header to add something else to his technical qualities."

Colombia, making their first appearance since 1998, have a maximum six points in Group C after winning two matches at a World Cup for the first time, although they are not yet certain of a place in the last 16.

"We have had two wins with players who are taking part at their first World Cup which is very positive for us, but we can't get ahead of ourselves," said Pekerman.

"After many years of frustration, we have given satisfaction to the public, who have great passion for football. It's been very painful missing out on this event." (Reporting by Brian Homewood; editing by Justin Palmer)

What to Read Next