Uruguay are daring to dream

2010-07-06 00:00

A URUGUAY side who have stuck to a robust game plan and reached the World Cup’s last four almost through sheer force of will, will continue in the same vein in their semi-final against the Netherlands at Green Point Stadium tonight.

Coach Oscar Tabarez admitted his side are the underdogs, but pointed out that matches at this World Cup have not been won on reputation.

“If you talk about which team has been superior in the last few years and at this World Cup, then there is no doubt it is Holland, and we know that,” the coach said yesterday.

“But you don’t come to the World Cup to decide what potential a team has. We are in the last four too, and our approach will be as it has been — we will give everything to win the game.”

The coach expressed his admiration for a Netherlands side who have largely moved away from the “Total Football” philosophy established by Rinus Michels in the 1970s, and which has been the dominant influence on Dutch football since.

“I met Michels in 1998 and he told me the Dutch people only like and feel football if the team attacks. And I believe this Dutch team is very good on attack, though also defensively.

“I think they have adapted very well to a World Cup where the teams are all very competitive.”

Uruguay are fortunate to be in the semi-finals at all, with Luis Suarez’s “volleyball” stop on the goal-line having denied Ghana victory in the quarters.

Asked if this situation is not embarrassing for the South Americans, Tabarez replied: “What I do feel embarrassed about is what has been said about the matter, mostly in the British press. We are speculating about a football action that can happen, and has happened before.

“It is an instinctive act. I am very upset about the whole issue and feel it has detracted from our very proud achievements at this World Cup. But don’t tell me that we cheat — I don’t accept that.”

Tabarez said the underdog tag could suit Uruguay, facing a Dutch side “who might feel the burden of responsibility to reach the final more than we do”.

It’s a tag that has suited the coach’s side so far.

“We might not have played brilliant football, but we have reached the semi-finals,” Tabarez said. “After the draw on December 4 people were sending us condolences when they saw our group.

“And we actually rebelled against that. Match after match we have started to dream, and what we stand to lose now is that the dream could be taken away. But in football there have been many instances where there have been surprises.”

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