Argentinean-born Pekerman, who took over as coach for the Colombian national soccer has become a national hero after taking over the running of the team in January 2012 and taking them to their first World Cup since 1998.
Jose Pekerman is no stranger in taking a soccer team to the pinnacles of the World Cup finals, having been there in 2006 in the role of manager of the Argentinian team, where he made it to the quarterfinals before being eliminated by host side Germany.
However, this time around, the story is a little different with Pekerman having succeeded in leading fairy tale Colombia to the finals against all odds, and with them being picked out of the hat in a draw which much favors the team, expectations are high in Bogota as well as in every corner of the often volatile country that the team that they idolize will go as far in the tournament as they have done in their history.
Such is Pekerman’s standing in the country, that the day after Colombia managed to force a draw 3-3 with fellow qualifiers Chile to make it to the Brazil finals, that he was was granted Colombian citizenship in a show of gratitude by the Colombian government.
The Colombians certainly got a good start in their opening match against a strong looking Greek team , who not so long ago won the UEFA European Championships. However on the day Pekerman’s players were just too strong and they ran out comfortable 3-0 winners in the opening match of Group C.
Now the Colombians have to face the Ivory Coast and Japan with a victory over either one of these should be enough for them to make it into the next round round knockout stages for the first time.
Jose Pekerman was born and raised in the Entre Rios province of Argentina, and began his love of Soccer as a young boy playing with local Mar del Plata Maccabi club. Jose was good enough to reach professional level, playing with a middle-of-the-road team in his home country Argentinos Juniors, before transferring to the Colombian side with Independiente Medellin.
Unfortunately Pekerman was forced to retire permanently due to the long-term effects of a knee injury. Instead of turning his back on the game that he grew up with Jose decided to follow a career in coaching, with his first assignment was as coach of the youth team of Colo Colo in Chile.
In Chile Jose showed he had what it takes to become at least a successful youth team coach, and upon returning to Argentina, he was appointed coach of the Argentinian under-20 national team, with whom he succeeded in winning the FIFA World Youth Championship in three separate occasions, 1995, 1997 and 2001.
Pekerman’s obvious managerial talents could not be ignored for too long by the national team and he was eventually appointed team manager in 2003. Aose succeeded in taking Argentina to the 2006 finals, where they put up a creditable performance before going out to host Germany in the quarterfinals.
After the disappointment of defeat in Germany, Pekerman resigned his post as national team manager and followed his roving instincts to Mexico, where he managed a number of unknown club sides before being, offered to take on the Colombian project as something of a rescue mission, as it struggled during the qualifying stages of the World Cup.
Having succeeded in claiming that particular mountain, Pekerman will be looking forward to seeing how far he can take the Colombians in this tournament, whilst having to overcome the absence of their most important player. Striker Radamel Falcao who will be missing for the entire tournament. So far the likeable and modest Argentinian seems to be doing a very fine job.