Foreign teams prep Uruguay well for World Cup exam

Sun, 27 Jun 12:59:00 2010

"The Master" believes playing in foreign clubs has prepared his Uruguayan class well for future World Cup examinations.

Uruguay's blend of a solid defence and slick attack has seen them through to a last eight clash with Ghana on Friday after a double from Luis Suarez earned them a 2-1 win over South Korea.

Known as the Master from his schoolteacher days, coach Oscar Tabarez said it was his young players' experience abroad that had helped materialise a dream of advancing to the quarter-finals for the first time in 40 years.

"Most of them, if not all, are playing in important clubs overseas and they are capitalising on the experience that they are gaining playing high-level football," he said.

Uruguay's win on Saturday over the Koreans confirmed the South American dominance that has taken all their five teams into the knockout stage.

Meanwhile, typically strong European sides have struggled, with 2006 finalists France and Italy going out in the group stage already.

Players also believe it is the exposure to foreign football that helps South America produce world-class players even from a small nation like Uruguay, home to only 3.5 million people.

"There are very many South American players these days playing high-skill football in Europe. When they come back to their national teams, you can see the difference," forward Edinson Cavani told Reuters.

"That's what makes their national teams strong."


Uruguay's next opponents Ghana are only the third African team to reach the last eight -- after Cameroon in 1990 and Senegal in 2002 -- and are carrying the hopes of an entire continent which is hosting the tournament for the first time.

"We expect it to be a tough match, like any other quarter-final match, it's like a final," Tabarez said.

"I am extremely satisfied with (my team). We don't have to improve that many things. We simply have to capitalise on this experience and give it our all against our next rivals."

Tabarez said his players had already made his country proud the way older generations were of the 1930 and 1950 champions.

"There are things you can celebrate even if you don't get to become the champion or a World Cup winner," he said.

But with strong attacking options in Suarez and Diego Forlan and a defence that has conceded just one goal in four matches here, Uruguay are dreaming of more.

"Let's see how far we can go on this voyage," Tabarez said.

Forlan was more cautious after South Korea's determination and spirit kept his team sweating until the end.

"Each one of the next games is an elimination game. Each one will be extremely difficult. It's going to be tough. We are focusing on the next game. That's as far as we think," he said.

(Editing by Jon Bramley)


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