Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez admitted on Monday to only having a modest hope that his team would beat the Netherlands in the FIFA World Cup™ semi-finals, but said he was allowing them to dream. The South Americans are clear underdogs against a side that won all eight of their qualifying games and are unbeaten in their five matches in South Africa.
"You don't come to the World Cup to see who has the most potential. The champion team is the one that wins the Final. We are still here and the scoreboard is not written yet," said Tabarez, whose side edged Ghana on penalties in the last eight.
"We have been analysing Holland and trying to find their strong and weak points, and every team has a weak point. We will go out there with enormous faith and do everything it takes as we have in our prior matches. We won't throw the towel in. "Of course we can lose the match but no-one knows. It is fair to say that we have modest hope that we can win, but it is possible."
Uruguay's task has not been made any easier by injury worries, with captain Diego Lugano struggling with a ligament strain while midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro has already been ruled out with a bruised right foot. The team will also be without striker Luis Suarez, who misses the game after being red-carded for his deliberate handball against Ghana, as well as suspended defender Jorge Fucile.
It is like we are at a party that we weren't invited to.
Tabarez said that whatever happened, Uruguay, who won the tournament in 1930 and 1950, could be proud after reaching their first semi-final in 40 years. "Up till now, we feel very happy with what we have done. Not so much in our footballing performance, but certainly in terms of recent football history in Uruguay," said the former AC Milan coach.
"It's been 40 years since we were in the latter stages of the World Cup. But it is also the effect it has had for the Uruguayan people back home, especially for children and young people, who have never seen anything like this. It has also happened at a time when no-one believed it could happen. It is like we are at a party that we weren't invited to. But I think we have the right to stay at that party. It simply depends on us."
Despite the odds being stacked against them, Tabarez insisted the pressure was all on the Dutch with expectations running high in the Netherlands that they can win their first ever FIFA World Cup. "In terms of Tuesday's match, this is extraordinarily motivating to play a semi-final," he said.
"If we talk about responsibilty, the players on the Dutch side will feel the burden of responsibility much more than us. Football sometimes gives you the opportunity to make a dream come true and World Cups are full of results that nobody expected. So I don't see why our dream cannot come true."