Winners of the first ever FIFA World Cup™ on home soil back in 1930, Uruguay are determined to rediscover the famous garra charrúa (Uruguayan fighting spirit) that helped them snatch a second world crown from under the noses of favourites Brazil 20 years later.
Glory does not have an infinite shelf life, however, and Uruguay have seen their grip steadily loosen on a regular place at world football's greatest showpiece. And after missing out on Germany 2006, the country's third failure in four qualifying campaigns, the Uruguayan Football Association called on one of their most successful coaching exports, Oscar Washington Tabarez, to turn this dire situation around.
ElMaestro quickly threw himself into the task at hand, calling on the services of a host of established stars as well as choice pearls from the country's production line of young talent. Having assembled a side packed with attacking verve, Tabarez has yet to imbue the consistency required for the infamously long South American qualifying trail.
Read on as FIFA.com takes a closer look at the Charrúas' first four results on the road to South Africa 2010.
The Celeste have shown admirable poise in front of goal thus far. Eight strikes in just four games makes Uruguay the zone's joint second-top scorers alongside Argentina and Brazil, only one behind Paraguay's nine-goal tally. That said, the Charrúas remain the only member of this foursome currently outside the direct qualifying berths for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
The signs suggest that Tabarez's charges need to work on closing out a winning position. After blowing away Bolivia in their opener, the Celeste led their games against both Chile and Brazil, only to let five of a possible six points slip from their grasp. For his team's qualifying bid to be successful, the former AC Milan coach must also address the Charrúas' form on their travels. Always difficult to beat at home, the Uruguayans need a vast improvement on two defeats from two away trips so far.
Their finest hour
Uruguay 5 - 0 Bolivia
Luis Suarez (4'), Diego Forlan (38'), Sebastian Abreu (48'), Vicente Sanchez (67') Carlos Bueno (82').
Uruguay kicked off their qualifying campaign in fine style, shaking off any opening-day nerves to put five unanswered strikes past Bolivia and send a wave of optimism around the packed Estadio Centenario. Even more impressively, the Celeste's goals in Montevideo came from five different players, including two substitutes.
The key men
Leading from the front has been much-travelled striker Sebastian Abreu, now with Buenos Aires aristocrats River Plate. El Loco has scored in three of his team's four games and struck up a superb understanding with Uruguay's other striking star, Atletico Madrid's Diego Forlan. Allied with the safe hands of keeper Fabian Carini and the defensive steel of Diego Lugano, this experienced quartet provide a vital steadying influence in a team packed with up-and-coming young talents. Among the brightest of these are forwards Luis Suarez and Vicente Sanchez, of Ajax and Schalke 04 respectively.
The numbers game
360: The number of minutes played by goalkeeper Carini and defenders Jorge Fucile and Diego Godin, the only three to have played every minute of Uruguay's four qualifiers to date. Tabarez will be hoping the trio's growing synergy can bring some much-needed solidity to the Celeste backline in the matches to come.
"Our objective was to win, the way we did it was secondary. I noticed many things that I'd been hoping for [from our performance] and also many others that I'd feared, and which will need work. The road to the World Cup is long and this is just the start. We need to avoid getting carried away and keep improving."
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez, after the opening-matchday win over Bolivia in Montevideo.