Uruguayan kid Coates eyes debut at World Cup
"I'm working hard to get the chance... in the matches (for my club) I'm thinking about trying to play well and show I can go to the World Cup," the 19-year-old Nacional defender told Reuters.
Coates has a good chance of being included in coach Oscar Washington Tabarez's squad for the finals after being on the bench against Costa Rica in the two-leg qualifying play-off - when he almost came on.
"That was a nice match to play because it decided whether we would go to the World Cup. Being there really filled me with pride," he said at Montevideo airport.
Tabarez said Coates missed out on his debut in the first leg of the November playoff in San Jose only because centre back Diego Godin felt he could stay on despite taking a knock.
"In the first match with Costa Rica he was about to go on. Godin had an injury at the end of the first half but he told me 'believe me that I'm okay' and he carried on, but if not (Coates) would have played with my full backing," Tabarez told Reuters in a separate interview.
"With my 19 years, so young, to go to a World Cup, which is every player's dream, would be something big in my life," said Coates, who had flown in from Ecuador with Nacional after playing a Libertadores Cup match.
"Uruguay have a good squad, with players who are showing in their teams in Europe that they are making a difference. I think we have to believe Uruguay have a very good squad, then we'll see in the matches."
Uruguay face hosts South Africa, France and Mexico in Group A at the finals that start on June 11.
"All our rivals are difficult... I don't think there is a weak one. It's a World Cup, they are there because they qualified as the best teams," he said.
Uruguay's history as past World Cup winners could be a positive factor, the tall, blond defender said as he stood speaking while sipping mate tea from a gourd with a flask of hot water under his arm in true Uruguayan fashion.
"I think it helps, there are teams that have never been champions and Uruguay have, so I think that's something that will be respected," he said.
Coates is likely to follow the best Uruguayans to a European club eventually but he did not want to get too carried away with his ambitions.
"Now I'm thinking of (helping) Nacional (in the league) and the fact of being able to go to the World Cup. It's (Europe) not an immediate goal, but rather it will come in time," he said.