Suarez back with Uruguay; ends biting ban from World Cup
Mar. 23, 2016
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Uruguay striker Luis Suarez is set to make his comeback to international soccer on Friday, almost two years after being banned for biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini at the 2014 World Cup.
His team faces Brazil in a key World Cup qualifier in the northeast Brazilian city of Recife, part of a region at the epicenter of the outbreak of the mosquito-borne virus Zika.
"Suarez should be emotional; should have many things going on in his head after being away from the team," Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said.
Suarez will be lining up against Barcelona teammate Neymar in a game that is expected to draw a large crowd of traveling fans from Uruguay.
Four other matches are set for Thursday: Ecuador vs. Paraguay, Bolivia vs. Colombia, Chile vs. Argentina and Peru vs. Venezuela.
Ecuador leads South American qualifying with 12 points, three points ahead of Uruguay and five in front of Brazil, Paraguay and Chile.
Ecuador will be at home against Paraguay in Quito where it always has a powerful home advantage playing in thin air at 2,850 meters (9,350 feet).
Argentina, the World Cup runner-up two years ago, has only five points and Colombia, which reached the quarterfinals, has only four points.
Argentina has a tough match playing at Copa America champion Chile, which will be under new coach Juan Antonio Pizzi, who replaced Jorge Sampaoli.
Colombia will also have to fight the altitude in La Paz, Bolivia, which presents an even greater challenge than Quito at 3,600 meters (11,800 feet) in the Andes.
In the next series of matches Tuesday, it's: Colombia vs. Ecuador, Uruguay vs. Peru, Argentina vs. Bolivia, Venezuela vs. Chile and Paraguay vs. Brazil.