'One dream' as Colombia arrive at World Cup

2018-06-13 14:29
James Rodriguez (Supplied)
James Rodriguez (Supplied)

Kazan - World Cup hopefuls Colombia pledged to honour the dream of 50 million home fans when they arrived in Russia to a small but enthusiastic reception.

The South Americans, led by forward stars Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez, start their Group H campaign against Japan on June 19 in Saransk.

They will be based at Sviyazhsk, just outside the Tatarstan capital of Kazan, where around 50 flag-waving fans met them at the airport when they touched down at close to midnight.

"I think we have the best players in the World Cup, in the world," said 26-year-old Nicolas, a student at the University of Kazan.

"Messi and Ronaldo are great players but we have an excellent team and in football you win as a team."

A bold message on the windows of the team bus read: "Here is one dream, three colours and 50 million hearts."

Coach Jose Pekerman's men want to improve on their impressive run at the last World Cup in Brazil, when they lost to the hosts in the quarter-finals.

Rodriguez still finished as the tournament's top scorer with six goals and won another award for best goal -- a superb volley in a 2-0 win over Uruguay.

Los Cafeteros's fans expect then to finish top of a group that includes Japan, Poland and Senegal.

Opening opponents Japan are struggling to rebuild after sacking coach Vahid Halilhodzic in April and Colombia will take confidence from their 4-1 win over the Blue Samurai during the group stages in Brazil.

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