FORTALEZA, Brazil (AP) — Colombia has been playing the exciting brand of football that Brazilians believe their own team should be playing at this World Cup.
They've also been dancing after goals, bringing a spirit of fun to the pitch. Fullback Camilo Zuniga puts it down to coach Jose Pekerman's philosophy of mixing amusement with responsibility.
Zuniga, who will be a key figure in marking Brazil forward Neymar in Friday's quarterfinal match, said Pekerman "helped us believe in ourselves."
"He drilled in our heads that we were good," Zuniga said. "He drilled into our heads that a Colombian with the ball should have fun, that he shouldn't have to play with pressure, but that it comes with responsibility."
Zuniga, who likes to attack down the flanks, said that the dancing is in the "Colombian blood." But he stressed that his first duty as a defender will be to contain Neymar and help the team keep a clean sheet.
Colombian goal celebrations have been choreographed dances, including salsa, with up to 10 players moving in lines together. And there's been plenty of them — Colombia's 11 goals in four games is second only to Netherlands in the tournament. James Rodriguez has scored a tournament-leading five goals and has been one of the stars of the tournament. Neymar, the Brazilian forward who could rightly feel like he's carrying the weight of the host nation, has scored half of Brazil's eight goals.
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