One of a series. For release at will World Cup ’90
MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) _ Uruguay, which hasn’t won a World Cup match in 20 years, depends on the stocky shoulders and swift legs of Ruben Sosa for a return to soccer greatness.
In recent years, the World Cup champions of 1930 have had trouble even qualifying for the tournament. The team’s performance four years ago still is referred to as ″the disaster in Mexico.″
Coach Oscar Tabarez promises this year will be different.
″Most of the play will be in midfield and defensive tactics will dominate,″ Tabarez said. ″Teams are evenly matched.″
Tabaraz predicts the star players will be Diego Maradona of Argentina, Marco Van Basten of the Netherlands, Emilio Butragueno of Spain and Sosa.
The 23-year-old attacker was a standout in last year’s South American championship, in which Brazil beat Uruguay 1-0 in the final match.
Nevertheless, Uruguay is an underdog even with Sosa, who stars for Lazio of Rome in Italy’s first division.
Tabarez acknowledges that Brazil, Italy and the Netherlands have better teams, and that West Germany looks stronger than it did in 1986.
″Our goal is to get through the first round,″ Tabarez said, ″and then go as far as possible so that people talk better about Uruguay than was the case after other World Cups.″
Playing without eight starters who are members of European clubs, Uruguay defeated World Cup contenders Colombia and Costa Rica in exhibitions last February in Miami.
Uruguay’s first World Cup match is June 13 against Spain. The other teams in the group are Belgium and South Korea, a draw Uruguayans consider to be favorable.
Most members of the team will come from the squads that played last year in the South America championship and the World Cup qualifying matches against Peru and Bolivia. Tabarez plans a conservative strategy in which midfielders will concentrate on shoring up the defense more than bolstering the attack.
″Instead of assigning one midfielder to help out the four defensemen, I’ll put two,″ he said.
Defenders Hugo de Leon and Nelson Guttierez are big and powerful, but relatively slow afoot.
Paired with Sosa at the opposite end of the field will be Antonio Alzamendi, 34.
Midfielders include Pablo Bengoechea, Ruben Paz, Enzo Francescoli and Daniel Fonseca.
Tabarez and the team seem to have surmounted difficulties that plagued it earlier this year.
Some club owners unhappy with the players Tabarez was selected wanted the Uruguayan Soccer Association to fire him. The association refused, but also canceled three exhibition matches in Spain and Italy because they looked certain to lose money.
″That demoralized us,″ goalkeeper Fernando Alves said. ″Still, we think we’ll come out on top.″
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