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Travel weary Colombians keep party going in Brazil

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 3, 2014 at 7:07 pm •  Published: July 3, 2014

FORTALEZA, Brazil (AP) — In 25 attempts, Colombia has only beaten Brazil twice, and never managed it on Brazilian soil.

Father-and-son Colombia supporters Orlando and Sebastian Duque are in Fortaleza hoping to see some history being made in this northeastern World Cup city on Friday.

The pair followed "Los Cafeteros" on a 10,000-kilometer (6,200-mile) trip to five Brazilian cities as their team has grown from group favorite to outside contender for the title — with four wins, 11 goals and a quarterfinal match against host nation Brazil.

In Fortaleza, the Duques waited outside the team hotel with about 200 other Colombians for a glimpse of players as they left for a training session. They chanted "James, James" — in honor of World Cup's top scorer so far, 22-year-old James Rodriguez, the boyish-looking striker who has found the net five times.

"We can do it this time, because our team is completely different now. They are very focused," said 21-year-old Sebastian Duque, standing next to his father who was wearing a bright yellow wig and matching Colombia team shirt with the name "James" printed on the back.

"The other teams rely heavily on a single player. Argentina has (Lionel) Messi, and it's similar with Brazil and Neymar. But we are a team. And we have many options to score. If James doesn't score, we have (Juan) Cuadrado and Jackson Martinez."

Coached by Argentine veteran Jose Pekerman, Colombia has soared in the world rankings and kept its momentum going despite losing star striker Radamel Falcao to a knee injury before the World Cup.

Colombia's army of traveling supporters and South American solidarity has meant the players could count on a home-ground atmosphere as they breezed past their opponents: beating Greece 3-0, Ivory Coast 2-1, Japan 4-1 and Uruguay 2-0.

That luxury will end in Fortaleza, which hosts its last World Cup match Friday.

Difficult flight connections from Colombia and the accumulated cost of travel for supporters means the visitors are likely to be heavily outnumbered by the home fans at Arena Castelao.

Pekerman said Friday's match would be "interesting and very even," acknowledging that crowd support had helped his team so far.

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