Sports

Suarez and Co looking to repeat history

URUGUAY

Two-time World Cup winners Uruguay return to the scene of their greatest triumph, having endured now customary struggles in securing qualification.

Buoyed by their 2011 Copa America triumph, Uruguay made a flying start to the Conembol campaign, with three of their opening four home games in Montevideo producing four-goal wins.

Despite sitting top of the standings with 11 points from five matches, the wheels came off dramatically for Oscar Tabarez’s men. A 4-0 thrashing away by Colombia began a run of six matches without a win before a relative recovery in the later rounds booked Uruguay into their fourth consecutive intercontinental play-off.

This familiarity with death-or-glory assignments over two legs stood them in fine stead as Jordan were demolished 5-0 during the opening game - a stellar forward line led by the lavish attacking talents of Luis Suarez (above) and Edinson Cavani enjoying a field day in the Middle East - before a goalless draw at home completed the formality.

The current squad are an ageing one and their midqualification slump offers a stark reminder of the team’s vulnerabilities.

Nevertheless, hopes remain high for the country that famously silenced the Maracana to pip Brazil to the 1950 World Cup in their own back yard.

Suarez - who should be fit despite suffering a pre-tournament knee injury which required surgery - and Co will be out to see that history repeats itself, so long as they can negotiate a tricky group.