Tabarez: Forward flair makes Argentina dangerous

MONTEVIDEO - Diego Maradona's Argentina are dangerous because of the players he has regardless of the team's struggles in the World Cup qualifiers, Uruguay coach Oscar Washington Tabarez said on Tuesday.

Argentina face Uruguay in a River Plate classic at the iconic Centenario on Wednesday in their final 2010 qualifier looking to get at least the draw that will send them to the South Africa finals.

Uruguay, who are a point behind, must win to snatch that berth and consign Maradona's team to a playoff or even elimination from the World Cup for the first time since 1970 if Ecuador beat qualified Chile in Santiago.

"Argentina is very tough for us. The power of the team comes from the players," Tabarez said.

"And no-one can argue (against), nor doubt the ability and quality of the Argentine players," he told a news conference.

Argentina have struggled through the qualifiers under Maradona this year, losing four and only sneaking back into fourth, which is an automatic qualifying berth, with a dramatic, last-gasp 2-1 home win over Peru on Saturday.

Maradona's Argentina, who have done little tactical work ahead of matches and have been subject to his selection whims, look good in flashes going forward but lack a recognisable shape.

They have struggled to finish moves in the net despite boasting forwards of the calibre of Lionel Messi, Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain.



Messi's struggles to reproduce his Barcelona form for Argentina are the subject of constant debate in Buenos Aires with critics saying he should be dropped.

Maradona, who sees Messi as his successor, insists he will always be in the side.

Uruguay striker Sebastian Abreu denied a theory that South American defences were tougher than those Messi faced in Europe, saying it was logical national team trainers concentrated the limited time they had with their players on defence.

"Always with a zero in your goal you're closer to victory than the other way round," he told Reuters.

Tabarez's Uruguayans, who played poorly in a 1-0 loss to Peru in Lima last month, have fought their way back into contention with wins over Colombia and Ecuador.

They looked good on the break in both matches having fallen behind, but they are obliged to take the game to Argentina on Wednesday, which ought to suit Maradona's team.

Midfielder Maxi Pereira believes Uruguay also have the quality to damage Argentina. He said: "Given the players we have we can hurt them, it's not going to be a defensive game."

Chile, under former Argentina coach Marcelo Bielsa, can be arbiters of the fate of the three teams when they look to celebrate qualification against Ecuador.

Ecuador, stunned to find themselves back outside the top five, can take at least the playoff berth with a win that would eliminate either Uruguay or Argentina.

The top four in South America, with Brazil, Paraguay and Chile already through, qualify for the finals while the fifth meets the CONCACAF's fourth-placed team in a two-leg playoff for one more berth.