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32 Teams of World Cup 2002 - Uruguay
Uruguay wake up to World
The sleeping giant of South American football is about to stir. Uruguay, a nation small in size but big on soccer, is ready to return to the world stage in Korea/Japan next summer.
The "Celeste" have been a long time coming - they have reached only two of the last six FIFA World Cup finals, in Mexico 86 and Italia 90. But thanks to a fifth-place finish in the South American, or Conmebol, qualifying group, only play-off opponents Australia stand between them and a trip to the Far East.
Seven of the 10 Conmebol countries changed coach mid-tournament, and Uruguay were no different. Former Argentine international Daniel Passarella started the campaign in charge yet surprised everybody by resigning after 10 of 18 games.
His replacement Victor Pua's accession was a smooth affair which disrupted neither the squad nor the style of play. In fact, the only inconsistency was on the pitch, where results were less than predictable. Despite these fluctuations, Uruguay held on to the fifth position they had under Passarella.
The tense final qualifier against Argentina in Montevideo, a 1-1 draw, was true to form, with character just about subjugating class. In terms of room for improvement, there is a house full.
Not that Pua doesn't have the players. The squad that has taken Uruguay to the brink of the finals includes the following big-name stars: Fabian Carini and Paolo Montero (Juventus FC); Washington Tais (Real Betis); Gustavo Sorondo and Alvaro Recoba (Internazionale FC); Darío Rodríguez (Peñarol); Gonzalo De los Santos (Valencia CF); Pablo Garcia (Milan AC); Gianni Guigou (AS Roma); Dario Silva (Malaga CF); Federico Magallanes (AC Venezia).
Significant past players:
Daniel Fonseca, Enzo Francescoli, Pablo Bengoechea, Fernando Alvez, Carlos Aguilera, Luis Cubilla, Juan Alberto Schiaffino, Obdulio Varela, Jose Nasazzi
-- FIFA World Cup winners 1930, 1950
-- Olympic champions 1924, 1928
-- Copa America winners 1916, 1917, 1920, 1923, 1924, 1926, 1935, 1942, 1956, 1959, 1967, 1983, 1987, 1995
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