Uruguay building up a head of steam

URUGUAY coach Oscar Tabarez believes the opportunity to mix with the best in South Africa is bringing the greatest football out of his players after an indifferent build-up to the World Cup.

The South Americans completed the group stages of the competition with a 1-0 win over Mexico yesterday to move into the last 16 where they will face South Korea. Only a few months ago La Celeste were struggling to qualify for the global spectacle, but eventually edged Costa Rica out in a play-off. And they have been outstanding so far in the competition, scoring four goals in their three games without conceding to finish top of Group A. Tabarez said: "In the qualifying round, we had good moments and bad moments. We thought if we managed to qualify for the World Cup, we would then have the better environment to work.

"You see a World Cup has a different motivation ... great teams, great players.

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"We are trying to do what we had exactly in mind before the tournament. Now I don't think we've achieved that yet, but Uruguay is now a difficult opponent for anybody."