Football - Copa América

Suarez hails squad unity

Uruguay's long-time cohesion and squad harmony has helped them overcome a poor start to the Copa America and reach the final, according to striker Luis Suarez.

 
Suarez hails squad unity  - Football - Copa AméricaAFP
 

Suarez has scored three goals in five matches including both in Uruguay's 2-0 semi-final win over Peru in La Plata.

Uruguay will play the winners of Wednesday's semi-final between Paraguay and Venezuela in Mendoza in Sunday's final at the Monumental in Buenos Aires.

"The group's mentality is the same as it was before and during the World Cup," said Suarez, who helped Uruguay finish fourth in last year's finals in South Africa.

"This is a very even Copa America, we didn't start well and there's little time between matches (to correct things)," the Liverpool striker said.

With 12 teams divided into three groups, there are less days between matches at the Copa America than the World Cup finals and regional heavyweights, hosts Argentina and holders Brazil who are in the early stages of team building, were eliminated in the quarter-finals.

Uruguay finished second in their group after 1-1 draws with Peru and Chile and a 1-0 win over Mexico and they eliminated old rivals Argentina on penalties in their quarter-final.

Suarez and Diego Forlan have had to alter their roles as Uruguay's strike force when Edinson Cavani, the third member of their World Cup attacking trident, was injured in their second match against Chile.

"With Edi's absence, the coach sent me to play more as a number nine but I'm comfortable with that," Suarez said.

Forlan has failed to find the net in the tournament but Suarez said that was not critical given his team mate's importance to the team in many other aspects.

"It doesn't matter who scores the goals," Suarez said.

The striker's comments demonstrate the team's ethic which can be attributed to coach Oscar Tabarez taking the reins for the second time in 2006.

The small country's remarkable achievements in the first half of the 20th century when they won two Olympic and two World Cup titles between 1924 and 1950 had become a millstone they carried during decades of little success despite producing excellent players.

But they have progressed under Tabarez, who has overseen a revolution in their organisation from the junior ranks up, and victory in Sunday's final will give them a record 15th title, moving ahead of rivals Argentina who they are currently tied with.

A Sunday triumph will also be their third Copa America since 1987, when the tournament was revamped, and first since they hosted the tournament in 1995.

"Uruguay are not satisfied with what they did in the past, this is the result of a process since 2006," Suarez said.

Reuters
 
 
 
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