RUSTENBURG - Oscar Tabarez is just happy to be at the World Cup after a marathon qualification process, the Uruguay coach said on Tuesday after his side beat Mexico 1-0 to make the last 16 as Group A winners.
The South American qualifying involves 18 matches for each of the 10 countries over two years, a massive task compared to the year-long European process.
"A World Cup has a different motivation, it's a huge party. The qualifying round is quite different," Tabarez told a news conference after another convincing performance by his team who did not concede a goal against France, South Africa and Mexico.
"I believe for all the five teams the World Cup is a joy whereas the qualification is long and we all suffer," he added in reference to the four other South American sides in the competition.
Brazil topped the qualifying table ahead of Chile, who were closely followed by Paraguay while Argentina surprisingly only just scraped through.
Uruguay secured the fifth and final spot with a play-off win over Costa Rica.
Tabarez paid tribute to the attacking football that is often on show in South America and said it was no surprise all five teams were doing well.
"Paraguay and Chile have been advancing, and many other Latin American countries are doing a lot of work. In Chile the idea behind this modernisation is attacking football," he said.
As it stands Brazil and now Uruguay have qualified for the knockout stages, with Argentina set to join them later on Tuesday.
Chile and Paraguay are also in a good position to qualify.comments