Colombia coach Jose Pekerman predicted star striker Radamel Falcao will be the “best player” at next year’s World Cup.
The 27-year-old Falcao has continued his rise as one of the game’s premier strikers, scoring as stand-in captain in Colombia’s win over Belgium while at club level, has been linked with a January move to Chelsea.
And Pekerman, who is readying his troops to face the Netherlands on Tuesday, hailed the 27-year-old Falcao as “one of the best centre-forwards in the world” and tipped the Monaco man to wreak havoc in Brazil.
“I think Falcao will be the best player at the World Cup. He has great qualities and a team that supports him at all times,” said Pekerman.
“He is smart and very technical and that is why he is one of the best centre-forwards in the world.
“I am proud to be the coach of a team which has Falcao. He is a unique player and any coach would want to have him in their team.”
Colombia’s form has followed the rise of Falcao with the South Americans filling the number four spot in FIFA’s world rankings and Pekerman believes the clash against the Netherlands gives his squad the chance to prove their worth.
“We are not afraid of Holland,” he insisted. “But we do respect them -- they always have good players and South American football has always admired this team.
“We want the chance to be measured against great players and continue to demonstrate the high levels we have been showing recently.
“It is a shame Robben will not be playing but I am sure they will have a replacement at a very good level.
“Recently we have shown great strength. We have reversed some of our bad times and played at a good level, producing some positive results at the same time."
And despite attention being very much on Brazil 2014, Pekerman hopes that work for future growth in the country will not be forgotten.
“There is no doubt that Colombia have very good players in several age categories now,” he continued.
“The good work has been done right from the bottom up and that should be the basis for Colombia to continue if we want to be in future World Cups as well as this one.
“We must not cut out this good work. Being in the international spotlight has to become a habit for us.”