x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Uruguay poised to attack but wily Parreira knows what to expect

South Africa, with their vocal, vuvuzela-tooting home support, are hoping to make La Celeste feel smaller than they have ever felt before.

PRETORIA // Uruguay, a country with a population of less than four million, is accustomed to being outnumbered by its neighbours Brazil and Argentina - who between them total a quarter of a billion inhabitants. Tonight, however, South Africa, with their vocal, vuvuzela-tooting home support, are hoping to make La Celeste feel smaller than they have ever felt before. The two countries meet in Pretoria and, with the hosts having drawn with Mexico and the South Americans with France, a win for either team would put them in the driving seat for a place in the last 16.

Uruguay played defensively against the French, but having lost Nicolas Lodeiro, the Ajax midfielder who was sent-off in their opening game, Oscar Tabarez, the coach, is expected to approach the game with a more attacking attitude, deploying three forwards with Edinson Cavani complementing Diego Forlan, of Atletico Madrid, and Ajax's Luis Suarez. Carlos Alberto Parreira, the Bafana Bafana coach, said he is familiar with the Uruguayan dangermen.

"Uruguay are one of the few teams to play with three centre-backs and two great strikers; both of whom are top scorers in top European leagues," he said. "We cannot afford to leave Forlan free. I have come up against him when I was with the Brazilian national team several times and he used to always score, so we have to keep a special eye on him for the entire 90 minutes." Parreira predicted an open game, saying: "Those who want to qualify have to win one of their remaining two games; that much is very clear for everybody. "We cannot wait for our opposition to make a mistake or else the chance of progressing will be very small" Tabarez, a former manager of AC Milan, agreed. "To date, we've used three defenders, but I thought that would mean having too many men in one line, so I want to have a more balanced distribution of players in midfield and attack," he said. gmeenaghan@thenational.ae

Group A
Country M W D L GF GA Pts
South Africa 1 0 1 0 1 1 1
Mexico 1 0 1 0 1 1 1
France 1 0 1 0 0 0 1
Uruguay 1 0 1 0 0 0 1