To the neutral observer, Uruguay’s 4-0 win over Uzbekistan seemed as close to flawless as they could possibly have wished. Sure, the South Americans missed the odd chance and saw an occasional pass go astray, but their defence was solid, their midfield dominant and their attack a constant danger.
Certainly, any Nigerians watching would have felt more than a little worried about prospect posed by the South Americans in the last 16. Yet even more concerning will be the words of Gino Acevedo. After all, the scorer of La Celeste’s opening goal, while pleased with his team’s performance, was unequivocal in declaring: ‘You ain’t seen nothing yet.’
“We played very well today, it’s true, but we can play even better than that,” he told FIFA.com. “I think the best of Uruguay has still to come at this tournament. This was definitely our best match so far though. We’re especially happy because we reached this level of performance when we needed it most. We knew we had to get a result today and we went about our business very well. It’s pleasing because we can see ourselves getting better and better game by game. But there are still areas where I know we can do more.”
Given his opinion on Uruguay’s unrealised potential, it is no surprise to hear the Defensor midfielder setting his team the ultimate target for their Turkey 2013 campaign. “We want the trophy, absolutely,” he said. “This is a very strong group of players and we definitely have the quality to become champions. That has always been our dream, although we know we need to take things game by game.”
As such, the focus will now turn to Nigeria, which for Acevedo represents a step into the unknown. His primary concern, he admits, is not what the Eaglets have to offer, but how quickly he and his team-mates can recover from today’s energy-sapping encounter in the Antalya heat.
“I don’t know much about Nigeria, I must admit,” he said. “I’ve never seen them play and I’ve never even played against an African team before, so it will all be a new experience for me. But I’m sure they will be as you would expect from Nigeria – a fast and physical team – and we will need to play close attention to our recuperation. They will have had two days more than us to rest, so it’s important we make the most of what time we have to recharge and get ready. It’s all about our preparation now. If we can play like we did today, or better, we’ll have a good chance.”
Another goal from Acevedo wouldn’t go amiss either. The midfielder is not renowned as a prolific scorer but, as he explained, his 25-yard drive low into the Uzbek net was an example of practice making perfect.
He said: “I was happy with how I played today and very happy with the goal because it’s not often I score. I have been trying out those kind of shots in training, and it’s always nice when you see something come off that you’ve been working on. Will there be more to come? Now I have one, why not? I think you can expect another one or two.”
With the promise of more goals and better performances ahead, Acevedo and Uruguay should be well worth watching.