Pekerman stands by Falcao despite zero goals in Copa

Radamel Falcao (right, in training) will hope that he can break his duck in the Copa when Colombia take on Argentina in the quarter-finals.
Radamel Falcao (right, in training) will hope that he can break his duck in the Copa when Colombia take on Argentina in the quarter-finals.PHOTO: REUTERS

TEMUCO (Chile) - More than 200 minutes played and barely a sniff of a goal: Radamel Falcao's miserable season with Manchester United has spilled over into Colombia's misfiring Copa America campaign.

Yet, while the man known as "El Tigre" has failed to bare his teeth in Chile, he will again wear the captain's armband when Colombia line up for a quarter-final clash with Argentina tonight.

Coach Jose Pekerman is adamant that Falcao's position is secure despite a series of performances which have left many wondering if the 29-year-old should make way for Porto's Jackson Martinez.

Falcao was anonymous in Colombia's upset opening defeat by Venezuela, had two attempts on goal in a 1-0 win over Brazil and only one effort in a 0-0 draw with Peru.

But Colombia were more threatening when the in-form Martinez replaced Falcao after an hour of the Peru clash, with his movement and physicality a sharp contrast to his off-song skipper.

Adding insult to injury, Falcao has also been widely mocked on social media for an incident early in the Peru tie when he threw himself theatrically to the ground clutching his face after a challenge with Carlos Zambrano.

A video clearly shows Zambrano made no contact and has fuelled anxiety among fans of English Premier League champions Chelsea, who are widely expected to sign the struggling striker.

"We can't be seriously considering signing him," one Chelsea fan wailed on Twitter.

For now, however, Falcao remains a favourite with Pekerman, who believes that form may be temporary but class is permanent.

"It's true, some players haven't really hit their top form, we're not going to try and hide that," the coach acknowledged.

"But we know who those players are and we know what they can do.

"I know it may be difficult for some people but I think it is important to support the players who have talent," Pekerman added, referring to Falcao who has 25 goals in 60 international appearances.

"If we want a team with a strong identity, then we cannot allow ourselves to be swayed by pressure to change the players from one day to the next," the Argentinian added.

Martinez, who is expected to clinch a transfer to Atletico Madrid soon, has enjoyed three successful seasons in Portugal, scoring 67 goals in the league, 13 in the Portuguese cup and 14 in European competition.

"If it was up to me, I'd be out on the pitch," he said.

Pekerman, however, has urged patience, appearing to address Martinez's frustrations in veiled comments earlier in the tournament.

"It's important to wait for opportunities to arise and to be ready to take them when they do," the coach said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Copa America q-final 2: Bolivia v Peru

StarHub Ch202, 7.30am

Q-final 3: Argentina v Colombia

Ch202, tomorrow, 7.30am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2015, with the headline 'Pekerman stands by Falcao despite zero goals in Copa'. Print Edition | Subscribe