11:08 | 06/09/2018 Society
Argentine Jose Pekerman stepped down as Colombia coach on Tuesday, less than two months after leading the side into the knock-out stages of the World Cup in Russia.
|Argentine Jose Pekerman — Photo elcolombiano.com|
The 69-year-old had been in the job since 2012 and led Colombia to successive World Cup finals appearances.
A Yerry Mina goal deep into stoppage time gave Colombia a 1-1 draw with England in the last 16 in Russia but the South Americans were then knocked out on penalties.
Colombian Football Federation president Ramon Jesurun praised Pekerman’s "highly successful" spell in charge.
He denied press reports there had been a falling out over pay, saying Pekerman had quit for "strictly personal reasons".
Pekerman’s contract ended on August 31 and local press were speculating that an extension was being hampered by an inability to agree economic terms, as well as a federation demand that the coach’s agent be kept away from the national team.
In a press conference, Pekerman criticised the media for "causing a lot of harm to the national team", with such rumours.
"You don’t get elsewhere the amount of lies and drivel that has been said here," he added, insisting he hasn’t had offers from other clubs or countries.
Under Pekerman, Colombia achieved their best-ever World Cup finish, reaching the quarter-finals in Brazil four years ago, where they lost to the hosts.
They also made the last eight of the 2015 Copa America, while finishing third a year later in the centenary edition.
Pekerman previously coached Argentina at the 2006 World Cup, where they lost to hosts Germany in the quarter-finals.
Veteran Dutchman Guus Hiddink, the former Netherlands, Real Madrid andChelsea coach, has been muted as a possible replacement, along with Iran’s Portuguese boss Carlos Queiroz and Croatia’s Zlatko Dalic, who guided his country to the World Cup final in July.
Colombia face Venezuela in a friendly on Friday before taking on Argentina in another next week, both being played in the United States.