Tabarez: Uruguay can win but won't return to top
"It would be utopian to think of Uruguay's permanence at the summit ... but we can believe in circumstantial results," Tabarez said on the eve of Uruguay's semi-final against Netherlands in Cape Town.
"I think the World Cups are quite full of (surprise) results that people don't expect and which today continue to cause astonishment," he told a news conference.
Uruguay, having won the first World Cup as hosts in Montevideo in 1930, caused a huge shock by upsetting Brazil in the 1950 decider, the so-called Maracanazo, for their second title.
The Uruguayans have struggled internationally since, their best placing coming in the semi-finals in Mexico in 1970. They have only reached four of the last 10 World Cups.
"(At the draw) when we landed our (difficult) group, they were saying prayers for us," Tabarez said.
"We're at a party to which we were not invited ... but we have the right to stay. It depends on us," former school teacher Tabarez, known as El Maestro, said.
He said the world had changed since Uruguay's heyday in the first half of the last century when they also won the Olympic title twice, in 1924 and 1928.
As a small nation of little more than three million people, the handicaps had become too great.
"The difference between the first and third worlds is much greater now ... Luckily, good players keep appearing (in Uruguay) but not in big numbers. In other countries they have more players than we have inhabitants.
"(But) if we hadn't had dreams up to now, and still had them, we wouldn't have got here," he said.
"We're conscious we haven't played great football but I don't think it's just down to luck."