'Yellow fever' grips Colombia

Long-suffering Colombians are shirking work, carousing in the streets and painting the nation yellow after a World Cup start that has exceeded all expectations and left them on edge ahead of Saturday’s knockout game.

Devoted yet oft-disappointed supporters, whose team are competing at the finals for the first time in 16 years, have been dropping everything to watch the team score goal after goal in the run-up to the last-16 clash with Uruguay.

In the capital Bogota, the swanky Parque 93 exploded into a raucous display of so-called ‘yellowfever’, named for the team’s sunshine-coloured shirts, as favourite James Rodriguez scored the final goal in a 4-1 win against Japan on Tuesday.

It was Colombia’s third straight win and gave them top spot in Group C.

The upper-crust park, usually a hangout for rich revelers enjoying cocktails and nannies watching children swing on a jungle gym, seethes at every match with fans who dance and honk vuvuzelas as they snap “selfie” photos by a big screen TV.

Even police and firefighters charged with controlling the crowd join the party, turning a blind eye to rowdy fans throwing flour and spraying foam, as they hug and cheer “Viva Colombia!”

“What a great team we have,” said Maribel Castano as friends jumped up and down watching theJapan game, blasting on red, yellow and blue striped horns and raising their arms in triumph.

During games, traffic comes to a halt and office workers abandon their desks to gather around televisions. Few worked on Tuesday, leaving phones and emails unanswered.