Colombia captain wants World Cup team to use past resolve

KAZAN, Russia — Radamel Falcao wants Colombia to draw on its past mental strengths in the qualifiers to save its World Cup in Russia.

The South American team’s captain and top scorer believes that Colombia can overcome the setback of the 2-1 loss to Japan in the first group match to rescue its hopes of advancing.

“We’ve had some past experiences” of pulling through in the end, Falcao said Thursday.

The Monaco player recalled Colombia’s challenges in World Cup qualifying, needing a draw to secure a spot in Russia in an away match in Peru after losing the previous match at home to Paraguay. Falcao left the field with his head down after that loss, as he did after the Japan defeat.

But in the end, Colombia held it together to secure a 1-1 draw against Peru.

Falcao hopes the team can now take that fighting spirit and translate it into a win Sunday against Poland, which also lost its first match in Group H.

Colombia achieved its best-ever World Cup run in 2014, reaching the quarterfinals before being knocked out by host Brazil. And there have been high hopes that the team can at least replicate that success in Russia.

Falcao said that Colombia is trying to leave the disappointment of Tuesday’s defeat in the past and try to take away “what strengthened us from that match.” He alluded to the “character” that Colombia showed in the first half at the Mordovia Arena in Saransk, after going down to 10 men and conceding a penalty that Japan converted. Colombia went on to equalize in the 39th minute, before Japan scored a second-half winner.

The captain believes Colombia has the resolve to survive again.

“I think the simple fact of still being alive in the World Cup gives us the emotional drive for our two remaining matches,” Falcao said.

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