Oscar Tabarez moved to temper expectations of a Uruguay side missing key players as they prepare to face Costa Rica in San Jose.
Uruguay are without strikers Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani – who face suspensions from competitive matches – as they prepare for the start of their World Cup qualifying campaign with warm-up games, the first of which ended in a 1-0 win over Panama.
The last meeting between the two sides produced a 3-3 draw and a 7-6 penalty shootout win for Costa Rica and Tabarez believes his side will not achieve their full potential for some time yet.
“I do not expect miracles,” said Tabarez. “I’ve been in football for a few years and I know it takes time.
“I think the potential of the players who are here at this time means we should not be overly optimistic, but we can at least have expectations.”
Tabarez is likely to keep faith with Middlesbrough striker Christian Stuani, who scored the winning goal against Panama, and he added: “We have to improve, but some very important players are missing.”
Opposite number Oscar Ramirez said international friendlies are helping to build his team’s personality.
In a 1-0 friendly defeat to Brazil, Ramirez gave a debut to 21-year-old midfielder Ronald Matarrita and was pleased with what he saw from the left-sided player in a game that was played at the Red Bull Arena in New Jersey.
“We debuted a boy, which must be a dream for many players, and we are investing for the future,” said Ramirez.
“I think having this kind of game gives us personality. You have to face various ways playing against teams – for example, we were on a neutral ground against Brazil – but maybe here we will play United States in qualifying [for the World Cup].”
Ramirez, who will be overseeing only his second game as head coach against Uruguay, is likely to opt for a five-man defence, and may rotate his goalkeepers by replacing Patrick Pemberton with Esteban Alvarado.
“Five on the backline is an option that I think can give us a certain stability on defense,” he said.
“Still I like to change it at anytime, to be flexible and see how the players respond to my variations.”
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