"Professor" Tabarez returns to World Cup with Uruguay again

10:56, May 15, 2010      

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After a 20-year absence, Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez took the team to the World Cup again.

Tabarez coached Uruguay at the World Cup 1990 in Italy, and he would be happy to have the same success when his team plays in Group A with host South Africa, France and Mexico at this year's tournament.

In 1990, a Uruguay team boasting stars like Enzo Francescoli and Ruben Sosa reached the second round but lost to Italy 2-0. The result put Tabarez under fire and finally sent him packing.

Without Tabarez, Uruguay looked even worse. In the year of 1994, 1998 and 2006, the team did not qualify for the World Cup.

The only fresh air came in 2002 when coach Victor Pua steered the team to South Korea/Japan, but did not make it to the knockout stage.

Of course, Uruguay has a glorious World Cup history, winning the first tournament in 1930 and then again in 1950 in Brazil. The team also finished fourth at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico.

But in the latest World Cup tournaments, Uruguay hardly captured the soccer fans' hearts. Since 1970, Uruguay has won only one World Cup game in 13 matches, beating South Korea 1-0 in 1990 with Tabarez as coach.

"The World Cup begins at the quarterfinals," said Tabarez, who took over in 2006 and is widely known as "the professor."

"We are not the favorites but we have to make sure that we reach the second round."

Against group rivals like Mexico, France and host South Africa, the veteran coach seems not intimidated.

"We must try to make a flying start in the first match (of the World Cup group stage). The second match is decisive so the team have to be totally focused," the 63-year-old said.

He added the team will play its own level and the game against South Africa will be a must-win match.

"South Africa is the host, it gives them power. And it has something we do respect, but they are the weakest rival in the group, we have to get points from them."

Uruguay is famous for its tough style of play. Tabarez's biggest problem has been getting consistency out of his team, which has its share of young players and is anchored by striker Diego Forlan.

Source: Xinhua


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