Little Uruguay thinking big at World Cup

JOHANNESBURG - Fighting spirit and a lack of big egos is helping Uruguay put together their best World Cup in 40 years, striker Diego Forlan's father Pablo said on Thursday.

Uruguay play Ghana in the quarter-finals at Johannesburg's Soccer City on Friday and "La Celeste" are hoping to emulate their previous title triumphs of 1930 and 1950.

The small, ranching nation is one of South America's most prolific producers of footballing talent and this year's World Cup run could inspire even more youngsters, said former defender Pablo who represented his country in the 1966 and 1974 editions.

"The best factory we have is the one that produces football players. With a population of three million it's impressive what Uruguay exports," Pablo told Reuters in an interview.

"It's undoubtedly something that's in our blood and we will continue to produce important players," said Pablo who is travelling with Diego, 31, and the rest of the squad in South Africa.

"Having big stars isn't enough to become champions. You can't have all chiefs and no Indians ... you need the Indians to run, to fight and to mark."


Uruguay are one of four South American sides in the quarter-finals and Pablo put that down to a team spirit that appeared lacking from some of the traditional European heavyweights such as France and England.

It is also the first time in four decades Uruguay have reached the last eight.

"Being a group is very important and that's down to the coach," added Pablo who said he was especially proud of his son's performances.

The blond Diego has scored two goals in the tournament and formed an excellent attacking partnership with Luis Suarez who has netted three times.

Most locals will be cheering for Ghana, the last African team left in the competition, but Pablo said that would probably bring out Uruguay's tough spirit.

"It's much better to play when the stadium is full ... we obviously have a lot of respect for Ghana but we're not scared of them," he said of the team nicknamed "Los Charruas" after an indigenous people.

Uruguay have forged their identity around "Garra Charrua" (the Charruan claw), a term used to refer to victory in the face of certain defeat.

"The Uruguayan player has the ability to crank it up a gear at the most critical moment. You can't buy that from the chemist, it comes from within," said Pablo.

Follow on Twitter
Join on Facebook