Uruguay boss Oscar Tabarez believes he boasts a unique weapon in Luis Suarez in the race to reach the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The Barcelona striker, hit with an international ban after biting Giorgio Chiellini at the last World Cup, made his return for his country in the 2-2 draw with Brazil.
Suarez, made captain by Tabarez, was involved in Edinson Cavani’s goal before scoring himself just after half-time as Uruguay came from two goals down to earn a point in Recife.
Uruguay are second in the table after five matches and have qualification firmly in their own hands, and Tabarez says the return of Suarez gives his side an edge over all of their rivals.
“He’s had a wonderful career. He created three chances in the match and scored one,” Tabarez said following the game. “He’s a player who does not surrender, who fights for the ball.
“When we started the qualifying without Suarez because of the FIFA penalty, I said to the fans that we would have the best reinforcement when he returned. No other team in in qualifying will have a player like him, with so much experience, more mature and in a great spell.
“The team is not Suarez and 10 others, but he is important, very important for us.”
Tabarez insists that securing a draw must be viewed as a good result given the way in which his side started the match.
He added: “We’ve overcome a difficult situation. In the first half, the Brazilians dominated, they were more creative. It was very important to get the goal in the first half and we were lucky to get a goal early in the second. Football is like that.
“Given the way the team started, it seems like this is a point won, not two lost.”