LUSAIL, Qatar, Nov 29 — Uruguay remain goalless at the World Cup and must find their form against next opponents Ghana in a re-run of one of the most infamous games in World Cup history if they are to progress to the next round of this tournament.
“We are looking for victory against Ghana, there is no doubt about it. If we have to make modifications, that is what we will do,” coach Diego Alonso said after Monday’s 2-0 defeat to Portugal left Uruguay bottom of Group H on one point.
Despite possessing the attacking riches of Darwin Nunez, Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez, the South Americans also failed to score in their opening 0-0 draw with South Korea.
Their only chance of reaching the last 16 is with a win on Friday against Ghana, but the Africans will want revenge for being cruelly knocked out by Uruguay at the 2010 South Africa World Cup in a memorable and action-packed quarter-final.
In that game, Suarez handballed on the line in the dying minutes and was sent off, only for Ghana to miss the subsequent penalty then lose a shootout. That deprived them of becoming the first African team in history to reach a World Cup semi-final.
Suarez was cast as the villain of the drama – and 12 years later is in the Uruguayan squad and may well line up again against the Africans.
“For us, it’s a different history,” Alonso said, trying to play down the historic resonance of that game.
“They are looking for classification, us too. It has nothing to do with what happened years ago.”
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Though Portugal dominated possession at the Lusail Stadium, Rodrigo Bentancur, Maxi Gomez and Suarez did go agonisingly close to breaking Uruguay’s Qatar World Cup duck.
“We didn’t play well but we had our chances and we were pushing forward. We were trying for it. But sometimes the opponents are good, they play well, they counter your game plan and don’t let you be where you would like to be,” Alonso said.
The South Americans certainly played with more snap and penetration after substitutes Facundo Pellistri and Giorgian de Arrascaeta came on with just under half an hour left.
“Our game improved with the two new players. The game was asking for them,” Santos said. “At the start, Portugal owned the ball, they dominated the ball. After, we played well. We need to gamble more and to move more freely.”
Arrascaeta looked devastated by the Portugal defeat but was also determined ahead of the Ghana game.
“We have one game left and we have to go for it. Without doubt, we have to win come what may,” he said.