Uruguay won't crumble under pressure

PORT ELIZABETH - Uruguay's World Cup winning history will not weigh them down in the knockout stages, although getting their hands on the trophy was still too ambitious a dream right now, their coach said on Friday.

The two-time champions have advanced to the last 16, winning their group without conceding a goal, but coach Oscar Tabarez said his team would not buckle under the weight of expectation from Uruguay's football-mad people.

"We don't want to lose our heads, we don't want to be over-euphoric or have excessive feelings of pressure," he said.

The South Americans last won the World Cup in 1950 and Tabarez refused to draw parallels between his young team and the likes of Alcides Ghiggia.

Ghiggia scored the winning goal for Uruguay in the decisive game against Brazil at the 1950 tournament and has accompanied the squad to South Africa.

"I don't know what would happen if we were to achieve what that team achieved back in 1950. We think it's still out of our reach. We still hold those champions as idols," Tabarez said.


But Tabarez said the World Cup, which has seen the likes of France and Italy go out in the group stages, was a tournament where surprises could happen.

"Power, history or precedent isn't really enough and this is what we see here. We will perhaps see more surprises in the rest of the tournament," he said of his side, who won Group A with two victories and one draw.

Tabarez said there would be only one change to his starting lineup for Saturday's opening second round match against South Korea in Port Elizabeth, with defender Mauricio Victorino coming in for Diego Godin.

He praised South Korea, whose team he said had improved a lot, owing to experience of European-based players.

"I'm impressed by their resilience, the pace that they give the game, the speed of some of the players," he said.

"It's a great squad and it's going to be a tough game. Of course our ambition is to go to the quarter finals but we can't be sure of this."

Uruguay, ranked 16th in the world compared to South Korea's 47th, have so far impressed with their blend of a watertight defence and slick attack.

Tabarez said he expects the Asians to play on the offensive, which could leave their defence exposed.

"They have some defence problems. But that's also a choice that coaches have. Football is like a short blanket, it either covers your head or it covers your feet," he said.

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