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Colombia keeping calm ahead of Qatar game at Copa America

June 18, 2019
Colombia's coach Carlos Queiroz, left, looks as James Rodriguez trains during a practice session of the national soccer team in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Tuesday, June 18, 2019. Colombia will face Qatar on Wednesday in a Group B match of the Copa America soccer tournament. (AP Photo/Nelson Antoine)
Colombia's coach Carlos Queiroz, left, looks as James Rodriguez trains during a practice session of the national soccer team in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Tuesday, June 18, 2019. Colombia will face Qatar on Wednesday in a Group B match of the Copa America soccer tournament. (AP Photo/Nelson Antoine)

SAO PAULO (AP) — After beating Argentina in its Copa America opener, Colombia wants to make sure it doesn’t get carried away with excitement.

That is why coach Carlos Queiroz is insisting that Wednesday’s game against Qatar in Sao Paulo will be trickier than facing Lionel Messi’s side.

“The next match for sure will be tougher than the one against Argentina,” Queiroz said.

Asian champions Qatar drew Paraguay 2-2 on Sunday after trailing 2-0. Coach Felix Sanchez said the best aspect of his team was the fighting spirit, a trend likely to be seen again in the match at the Morumbi Stadium.

Defender Yerry Mina agreed that Colombia needs to handle the match against Qatar with care.

“We need to go step by step,” he said. “We are not where we want to get, but we aren’t also where we were yesterday.”

Midfielder Wilmar Barrios believes the Qataris, who are preparing for the World Cup they will host in 2022, will pose a tough challenge.

“When you win the mistakes are not seen, but we have to sit down to watch with the whole group and know we have to improve,” Barrios said.

Barrios’ availability for the game at the Morumbi was in doubt because of pains in his right knee, but he said he will play on Wednesday.

Colombia has lost striker Luis Muriel to a left knee injury, which forces Queiroz to seek a partner for striker and captain Radamel Falcao.

Roger Martinez and Duvan Zapata, who came off the bench to score Colombia’s goals in the 2-0 win against Argentina, are the two candidates.

Argentina and Paraguay also play Wednesday at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte.

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