There were mixed feelings in the Uruguay camp after their elimination from the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates 2013. The disappointing 2-0 defeat to Nigeria ended their hopes at the tournament after a series of good performances had them dreaming of glory, yet La Celeste return home with the knowledge that they played well and that the competition will prove to be a springboard to success for many of their talented youngsters.
It was moving to observe the 21 members of Uruguay’s squad tearfully depart the changing rooms for the minibus that would take them to their hotel after the reverse against Nigeria. Among the most downbeat was goalkeeper Thiago Cardozo, who, after the Africans’ second goal was visibly upset and could not hide his anguish. “I’m angry, we didn’t deserve to lose like that,” the custodian told FIFA.com. “I think we only lost because we had some trouble going forward. It hurts a lot."
“We’re not satisfied just to have reached the quarter-finals, I think we deserved more than that,” the Penarol shot-stopper continued. “We were strong, but they finished the chances they created and we didn’t. We have to move on, life gives you opportunities to make amends.”
Cardozo’s club-mate and captain in the national side Fabrizio Buschiazzo had a similar view: “When they got near our goal they made it count, whereas we didn’t. Physically they were stronger than us and I think that’s what tipped the balance in their favour.”
Nevertheless, Cardozo was also keen to take the positives from the tournament: “You don’t play at a World Cup every day. We can use the experience we’ve gained in matches like the one against Nigeria with our clubs and that allows you to grow. It was a hard blow to take though.”
Buschiazzo, meanwhile, was struggling to come to terms his side’s elimination. “At the moment it’s hard to analyse what we were lacking and it’s difficult thinking about what we can take from this World Cup. I think it’s given us a lot of experience. The seniors always tell us that it’s all part of a learning curve, that this is very important and that we’ll see the results in a few years. But we’re still young and to be honest we can’t explain why we lost.”
The defeat was an especially bitter pill for Uruguay to swallow as they had arrived in the United Arab Emirates aiming to return home with the title. “Our objective was to win the tournament, we came here wanting to be champions,” Buschiazzo said. “We were able to compete with everyone and we could have won it. At this stage the matches are decisive and a lack of concentration can cost you a goal. A goal loses you the game and eliminates you.”
“We had high hopes,” said Cardozo. “As a child you dream of playing at a World Cup. I think the fact that we finished top of our group and the way we played after that shows that we had a good tournament. Obviously we wanted to win it; it was everyone’s dream to do so. I’m sad, but I know that we have to move on.”
Indeed, both Cardozo and Buschiazzo have the next targets in their sights. “My next steps are to make my debut for Penarol and to seal a place in the first team at my club,” said Buschiazzo. “I know the U-20s comes next and I’d like to be called up into that squad. Further down the line I hope to make my boyhood dream of playing in the senior Uruguay side come true.”
Although more reserved than the young Charrua’s No3, Cardozo is aiming for similar progress: “I’m going to put all my energy into making it into the Penarol first team. It’ll be tough, because you might be able to get there, but staying there is difficult. This step with the U-17s could help me make it into the U-20s in the future and you never know, I might be able to play at another World Cup with them. That would be the best revenge.”