Uruguay looking for another shut-out
Uruguay v South Korea
Today, 3:00, Live RTE2, BBC1
FOR TOO long, Uruguay have been best known for the brutality of their defenders. The infamous first-minute dismissal of Jose Batista for a violent assault on Gordon Strachan in Mexico '86, has taken a long time to live down -- not least because the likes of former Juventus defender Paolo Montero did little to dispel the image.
Once, however, Uruguay were known for the quality of their football. They won the first World Cup with a short-passing game, in 1930, and did so again in 1950. With a population of four million, such successes have been hard to repeat, but they now feel they have a strong chance of reaching the last eight for the first time since 1970.
This time, the defenders are getting noticed for the right reasons. Uruguay are yet to concede in this World Cup, keeping clean sheets against France, South Africa and Mexico to win Group A. Another would probably be enough to ease past a more porous South Korean team in Port Elizabeth today and into the quarter-finals where they would meet United States or Ghana.
The front two, Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez, still attract most of the publicity, but they are happy to share credit with the back four.
"Defensively this team is great and so well settled," said Forlan. Suarez added: "We control games very well, mainly down to our amazing defence. We feel very safe with them."
South Korea were semi-finalists themselves eight years ago but that was at home. But Park Ji-Sung said he hopes to prove 2002 was not a fluke.
"I don't think we made it to the semi-finals just because it was on home ground. We will do our best to prove that was not the case." (© Independent News Service)