Uruguay count on strong defence against Koreans

Uruguay v South Korea, Today, 3pm, ITV1, Port Elizabeth

For too long, Uruguay have been best known for the brutality of their defenders.

The infamous first-minute dismissal of José Batista for a violent assault on Scotland's Gordon Strachan in Mexico, in 1986, has taken a long time to live down – not least because the likes of former Juventus defender Paolo Montero did little to dispel the image.

Once, however, Uruguay was known for the quality of its football. They won the first World Cup with a short-passing game, in 1930, and did so again in 1950. With a population of four million, such successes have been hard to repeat, but they now feel they have a strong chance of reaching the last eight for the first time since 1970.

This time, the defenders are getting noticed for the right reasons. Uruguay are yet to concede in this World Cup, keeping clean sheets against France, South Africa and Mexico to win Group A.

Another would probably be enough to ease past a more porous South Korean team in Port Elizabeth this afternoon and into the quarter-finals where they would meet United States or Ghana.

The front two, Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez, still attract most of the publicity, but they are happy to share credit with the back four. "Defensively this team is great and so well settled," said Forlan. Suarez added: "We control games very well, mainly down to our amazing defence which is on great form. We feel very safe with them."

"Uruguay have been very good in their defence, but although we may have let other teams score goals, we have scored goals as well ," said South Korean coach Huh Jung-moo. "We are doing our best to work on scoring twice every time we lose a goal."

South Korea were semi-finalists themselves only eight years ago but that was at home, backed by fanatical fans, helped by some friendly refereeing, and with the benefit of months in a training camp under Guus Hiddink. This is the first time they have gone beyond the group stage outside of their own shores, but Park Ji-sung said he hopes they can go further and prove 2002 was not a fluke.

Looking back, the Manchester United midfielder said: "I don't think we made it to the semi-finals just because it was on home ground. We will do our best to prove that was not the case.

"I can't compare this team to then. That was the best team in our history. But this team is improving. At the end of the World Cup, we can compare and hopefully then we can say we are better."

"In 2006, we had some players playing in foreign leagues," he added, "but this time we have a lot of players who have either played in European leagues or are currently playing there. That has been a great help."

Huh accepted Uruguay were favourites but added: "There are possibilities open to everyone. Teams like Italy can lose, and unexpected teams can win."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue