Uruguay v Netherlands - Preview
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez insisted his side will feel no embarrassment
when they line up against Holland in the World Cup semi-final at the
Green Point stadium.
Tabarez maintains that Luis Suarez did not cheat when he handled the ball on the line to deprive Ghana a quarter-final winner in the last seconds of extra time, the Ajax striker then celebrating on the touchline when Asamoah Gyan missed the resulting penalty.
Suarez, who likened the handball to Diego Maradona's infamous 'Hand of God' goal against England in 1986, is suspended from the semi-final. Tabarez was clearly angry at the questioning of Suarez and said: "I'm embarrassed by what has been asked. That is shameful.
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"It was an instinctive act. Suarez couldn't foresee what happened afterwards, that Ghana would miss the penalty. Don't talk to me about a lack of modesty.
"We are very proud and we're upset with this topic. We're proud of our performances and what we've contributed to the development of football at this World Cup.
"Uruguay went through almost three matches without a yellow card at all, so please don't tell me we're cheats."
It was a feisty final press conference as Tabarez refused to give an update on the injured Diego Lugano or to name his starting XI as he had promised, claiming the Uruguayan press had been spying on his training sessions.
"Some journalists are playing as war correspondents," Tabarez said.
Tabarez was prepared to talk about a Holland side which has reached the semi-final after winning all eight of their qualifying matches plus five games in South Africa, including knocking out Brazil 2-1 in the quarter-finals. He spotlighted Arjen Robben as their biggest danger and denied that he was a diver.
"He's a great footballer," Tabarez said. "He's very fast, very nimble, very long strides. When he shifts his body it's difficult to react.
"With Robben back, this Holland side benefits greatly. They were already very good without him, but now they have him contributing as well. "Like any footballer who is hit on the pitch, well, I wouldn't say he is a 'cheat.' These are things that happen in football. It's up to the referee to determine the players' intentions."
The Dutch are looking to recreate the 1970s glory era, with coach Bert van Marwijk placing his trust in Dirk Kuyt and Robin van Persie. Neither man enjoyed the best of domestic seasons and Van Persie has not always cut a contented figure in South Africa amid rumours of a sour relationship with star man Wesley Sneijder.
But Van Marwijk is happy to have the duo on board for a journey that took such an unexpected twist with that fabulous quarter-final triumph over Brazil.
"I read somewhere that when Rafael Benitez picked a team at Liverpool, he wrote Kuyt's name down first. That says everything," Van Marwijk said. "Every player has a period where things don't work out and Liverpool had a very tough year, but Kuyt is extremely important for us.
"The way he plays shows his passion and enthusiasm, and it is catching." Van Persie was out of action for five months after suffering a major ankle injury on international duty last November. It has taken the Arsenal star a bit of time to find his form, with just one goal so far, but Van Marwijk believes the 26-year-old remains a major influence.
"Robin is extremely talented," he said. "He is one of the best football players on this planet.
"He was injured for a very long time and you do need a certain rhythm. Sometimes it comes just like that. Sometimes it takes a bit longer.
"But he was better in the last match than the one before. Players with so much talent can suddenly decide a game. I always believe in him and still do."
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