PORT ELIZABETH - Uruguay called on the spirit of 'garra charrua' and the thundering foot of Luis Suarez to give them a 2-1 win over South Korea on Saturday and a place in the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time in 40 years.
Taking their nickname 'Los Charruas' from a mysterious and long lost indigenous people, Uruguay's national team has forged their identity around 'garra charrua' (Charruan claws) a term used to refer to victory in the face of certain defeat.
That force was with "Los Charruas" on a water-logged Nelson Mandela Bay stadium pitch on Saturday as Uruguay held off a second half assault by Korea that was as relentless as the driving rain before Suarez got a brilliant 80th-minute winner.
"People say Uruguay has this 'garra charrua'," striker Edinson Cavani told Reuters.
"Today, Uruguay had that desire, that determination. We kept pace with a team like South Korea which was very difficult but it was that desire that pushed us forward."
While a place in the last eight was described as a dream come true by the players, coach Oscar Tabarez reminded his team their achievement was real and even more was possible.
However, he conceded that after 40 years of frustration, many of his fellow countrymen were dreaming of more victories and it was up to his players to meet those expectations.
"We're not building castles in the air. I don't see why we should be resigned to anything," said Tabarez. "Before we began this World Cup I told the players, 'Hey the people back home have great expectations, they have dreams and we have to deliver.
"There are only three million people in Uruguay. There are very few of us and it's a long time that we have been looking forward to something like this and now it is happening.
"The main reason for this is to give our people joy so I hope the celebrations will continue."
With fruitful attacking options in Suarez and Diego Forlan and a defence that has conceded just one goal in four matches, Uruguay will fancy their chances of advancing further.
But for all his team's strengths, Tabarez said his squad's biggest was the bond that had developed among the players.
"We have great harmony," he added. "This team sticks together. They are very, very united.
"The last 15 minutes of this match we saw that harmony, that solidarity among the players, that unity. This is a very good weapon and allows us to take on any team."comments