Saturday 24 August 2019

Tabarez hails centurion Suarez

Uruguay manager Oscar Tabarez. Photo: PA
Uruguay manager Oscar Tabarez. Photo: PA newsdesk

Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez paid tribute to Luis Suarez as the team prepared for today's World Cup match against Saudi Arabia - the 100th international appearance for the striker.

"It is a big number, but not just a number. It means so much more to a player," Tabarez said. "Since he came up from the youth squad, Suarez has had a pivotal role."

The 31-year-old failed to shine in the opening match against Egypt, where the South Americans struggled before a late goal from defender Jose Gimenez gave them a 1-0 victory.

"I think there is agreement that (Suarez) did not have his best game against Egypt, but players are not programmable robots. They need support," Tabarez said. "His potential remains intact."

The Barcelona man has scored 51 goals for Uruguay and is playing in his third World Cup.

At his fourth World Cup with Uruguay, the 71-year-old Tabarez is the oldest coach in the tournament, and he reflected on the impact of the game in his home country, a two-time champion with just 3.5 million people.

"There are not many countries that can say football is part of their identity, but we are one of them. Back home, even the monuments have been painted light blue. The pedestrian crossings have been repainted in blue and white," he said.

Irish Independent

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