Irrespective of how Tuesday’s semi-final pans out, Oscar Tabarez said it would be perverse to believe that Uruguay have returned to their position of eminence in world football.
“I don’t think being a footballing power depends on the occasional result. It would be Utopian to think we have become a world power because of our performance here. The world hasn’t changed simply because we won a few matches,” Tabarez, 63, said.
The coach said Uruguay, twice World Cup winners, are still part of “football’s Third World” and had to make a great effort to come this far. The problem of players migrating to Europe has severely weakened the league back home, which constantly has to deal with diminishing resources, he said.
“We made huge efforts to be here (the semi-finals), more than the three other teams.
“What we have tried to do from the outset is to adapt to world football and find ways to bridge the organisational and economic gap between us and other countries such as those that have reached the semi-finals.”
Tabarez didn’t forget to mention how people started “sending condolence messages” when the draw was made here on December 4 and agreed that the World Cup would have a positive impact on the game back home but urged for continuity in the process that has taken Uruguay this far.
“We have shown that what we can achieve with a sensible knowledge of world football. We faced about 10 sides in the run-up to the finals, missing only one FIFA date. We need to keep doing that regardless of who is the coach or the manager.”
If you had closed your eyes and ignored the lady translator, it could have seemed like Bob Houghton speaking. Tabarez’s insistence on using FIFA dates (specific dates earmarked in FIFA’s calendar for international matches) echoed what the 63-year-old India national coach has been saying for the past four years.
There are a number of football officials in India, especially in Kolkata, who freely air their disapproval of Houghton’s ideas. If only they heard Tabarez speak in the city Houghton calls home.