Colombia coach plays down Suarez absence

Rio de Janeiro: Colombia coach Jose Pekerman on Friday said that Uruguay striker Luis Suarez`s absence from Saturday`s World Cup last-16 showdown between the sides will not affect his team`s approach.

Suarez has been banned for nine international games and suspended from all football-related activity for four months after biting Italy`s Giorgio Chiellini, but Pekerman was reluctant to discuss his case.

"This is currently a sensitive, delicate issue," the Argentine told a pre-game press conference at Rio de Janeiro`s Maracana Stadium.

"As I understand it, it seems to me that our sole concern is Uruguay as a team. We`re working in order to play against them tomorrow (Saturday)."

Even without their star striker, who scored twice in a 2-1 group-phase win over England, Pekerman believes that the South American champions remain a formidable proposition.

Asked for his thoughts on Suarez`s punishment, he replied: "First of all, we`ve always thought of Uruguay and their strengths.

"These are top-level opponents that we`re facing. It`s a very experienced team with a lot of abilities and a wonderful coach (Oscar Tabarez), who`ve had a successful cycle in the last few years.

"They`re going to be difficult opponents. I`ve been very busy dealing with Colombia and the problems we had in the past, with a lot of injured players.

"We`re in the World Cup now, so let`s think of Uruguay, who have a great team."

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