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Colombia coach Pekerman optimistic about Senegal showdown   

SAMARA Russia (Xinhua) -- As the decisive group game between Colombia and Senegal impends, Colombia coach Jose Nestor Pekerman conveyed optimism and hope for a victory on Wednesday here at Samara Arena.

“This game is decisive, it defines who progresses to the next round, the result will determine what happens with the teams,” Pekerman told reporters at the pre-match press conference. “We came for more. It wouldn’t be a good result if we were eliminated.”

On the result of the match, the Argentine said his team will do everything to stay at the World Cup.

Following a 1-2 loss to Japan and a 3-0 win over Poland, Colombia needs a victory in Thursday’s match against Senegal to progress to the knockout stage while a draw is enough for the African country to secure a spot in the last 16.

“The game will be very intense, very competitive,” Pekerman said. “I hope we can leave with a victory.” 

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UPDATES:

Senegal coach Cisse vows to beat Colombia to reach World Cup last 16

SAMARA Russia (Xinhua) -- Although a draw is enough to secure a spot in round of 16 at the World Cup, Senegal coach Aliou Cisse on Wednesday promised to beat Colombia in their last Group G match.

In response to the question of whether he will play Colombia to get a draw, Cisse told reporters at Samara Arena that his team wouldn’t do any calculation for Thursday’s match.

“Tomorrow we enter the field with clear instruction to play and to win,” said Cisse.

Following a 2-1 victory against Poland and a 2-2 draw with Japan, at least one point is needed for the Teranga Lions to advance to the knockout stage.

“We know it’s a tough game ahead of us,” said Cisse, adding that Colombia is a team that can launch fast attacks.

“They can cause us problems. They have players like James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao,” the 42-year-old coach warned.

Cisse also mentioned that the style of the two teams has a resemblance. “Colombia and Senegal are practically the same styles of play. Colombia relies heavily on the physical impact and we also have players who can do the same thing.”

Cisse urged his men to stay focused during Thursday’s match.

“The concentration will be important. We must redouble our vigilance,” he said.

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Soares aims to keep it tight when Portugal meet Uruguay in last 16

MOSCOW Russia (Xinhua) -- Portugal defender Cedric Soares says his side will continue to be pragmatic when they face Uruguay in the last 16 of the World Cup finals on Saturday.

Iran’s late penalty which secured a 1-1 draw in Portugal’s last Group B match saw the Portuguese be knocked off top spot by Spain and they now face a tough tie in Sochi against Group A winners, Uruguay. The South Americans’ 3-0 win against Russia means they have progressed to the next round by scoring five goals and conceding none.

Portugal have not impressed thus far, but just like Uruguay the reigning European champions have made a virtue of their solid defense and Soares isn’t about to start changing their style of play now.

“The most important thing is to win and that is our aim in every game,” he said in a press event on Wednesday. Despite all the talk of Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal’s triumph in France two years ago was based on a defense which conceded just four goals in six matches, three of which came in a group game against Hungary, with just one in the knockout stages.

“Every team has its own strategy and we have ours. No matter if the game is spectacular or not, our number one goal for now is to beat Uruguay,” said Soares, who was not worried about the late penalty decision where he was harshly adjudged to have committed deliberate handball.

“The World Cup is tough and our goal was to get to the knockouts, which we have done,” he explained. “The next game is going to be difficult but we are European champions and have proved our quality in the past,” the defender said. Soares is also not intimidated by the fact that Uruguay are unbeaten in 2018.

“We know they haven’t lost and we know their players very well; they are a strong team,” he concluded. 

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