Soccer Football - 2018 World Cup Qualifiers - Peru v Colombia - Nacional Stadium, Lima, Peru - October 10, 2017. Colombia's team head coach Jose Pekerman reacts..
(photo credit: REUTERS/GUADALUPE PARDO)
Led by its Jewish Argentine coach, Jose Pekerman, Colombia’s national soccer team will play in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Colombia qualified for next year’s World Cup in Russia with a 1-1 draw against Peru last week in the final round of matches in the CONMEBOL South American group.
Pekerman was born in Villa Dominguez in the Argentine countryside, one of the main centers of Jewish immigration to the country. His grandparents came from Ukraine.
As an adult, Pekerman lived in the Buenos Aires Jewish neighborhood of Villa Crespo.
Pekerman, a former midfielder with the Argentine national team, took over as Colombia’s coach in January 2012 and led Colombia’s return to the FIFA World Cup in 2014 following a 16-year absence from the world championships of soccer’s governing body. In June 2016 he led Colombia to a third place in the prestigious Copa America, held in the United States.
In more than five years as the coach of “the cafeteros,” or coffee makers, Pekerman has skippered 70 games and accumulated more wins than ties and losses: 38 versus 17 and 15, respectively.
Pekerman is the only Jewish member of a team participating in the FIFA World Cup for the second year in a row, albeit from the bench.