Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez insists his side still have what it takes to reach the World Cup despite their 2-0 defeat to Chile on Tuesday.
Goals from Esteban Paredes and former Napoli striker Eduardo Vargas dealt a further blow to Uruguay’s aspirations of making next year’s finals in Brazil, but the veteran coach is in no mood to throw in the towel.
“It is true that the situation is very complicated, but we are very clear about our objectives and we have to keep fighting because our own experience tells us that we must fight to the end,” Tabarez told reporters.
“But it is true that we have fewer games left and are further behind. We are fighting for fourth place but we cannot ignore fifth either. We have to be real and self-critical of ourselves.
“Obviously, we are not happy and more than worried. I thought that the losing streak was over after the match against Poland (in November), but it was not.
“We know it is very difficult at the moment, but we will devote ourselves to finding the solutions.”
Luis Suarez could face retrospective punishment from FIFA after aiming a punch at Gonzalo Jara in the first half, but Tabarez insists the incident had no bearing on the result on the day.
“There is nothing we can do now so it is not worth speaking about referees. I do not want to pick out individual incidents, but for me there was a clear hand (on Jara),” he said.
“After the game I went onto the pitch because I feared that my players would protest (the decision). But I cannot say that this made us lose the match because in the first 15 minutes Chile were much better.”
Tabarez blamed Uruguay’s inability to claim a result on poor defensive organisation – namely in the build-up to Chile’s first goal – and a failure to maintain their momentum when searching for a route back into the match.
“We made mistakes. The first 15 minutes of the game did not go well. Chile spread the ball around and found lots of space. That was the source of our problems,” the ex-AC Milan and Cagliari boss added.
“It’s true that the first goal came from Chile finding space but it wasn’t a goal until the net became gaping. Then, little by little, we began to build something, but it wasn’t to be.
“We did not think that they were going to steal the victory like it happened the other day with Paraguay. Yet after just 15 minutes, we already made too many mistakes and it became difficult.”