Tabarez not worried by slow Suarez start

By Iain Strachan 19 June 2018 91
Tabarez not worried by slow Suarez start

Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez has complete faith in Luis Suarez as the forward prepares to make his 100th international appearance in a World Cup clash with Saudi Arabia in Rostov-on-Don.

Suarez laboured without reward as Uruguay were forced to rely on an 89th-minute winner from defender Jose Gimenez to beat Egypt 1-0 in their first match of Group A at the tournament in Russia.

The 30-year-old Barcelona star made his Celeste debut in 2007 and has spent his entire national team career under the guidance of Tabarez, who first led Uruguay from 1988-90 and returned to the post of head coach for his second spell in 2006.

"Yes, time flies," the 71-year-old said when asked about the impending milestone for the former Ajax and Liverpool star. 

"100 matches. It's a number that's very important for footballers in their national squads. That's not simply a number, it means so much more. 

"And over those 100 matches, Suarez, perhaps not in all but most of them, has been a decisive player. The few things we've achieved, he's always been important. 

"He's scored significant goals, given great assists. He's a forward who gives many assists. 

"We all agree perhaps he didn't have the best match against Egypt, but his potential is intact."

After failing to hit the back of the net last time out, Suarez is already at a disadvantage in the race to become the tournament's leading scorer, Cristiano Ronaldo having netted a hat-trick against Spain, while both Romelu Lukaku and Harry Kane grabbed braces for Belgium and England respectively on Monday.

"I think that in this World Cup we have great strikers, with important records," Tabarez said of Suarez's candidacy to top the scoring charts.

"The golden boot in Europe was defined at the very, very end [of the domestic season] and they're almost all here at the World Cup. Some have scored in their opening match. 

"The story of all these strikers, they have positive streaks and negative ones as well. You can't know what the outcome will be. Nobody calls into question their potential, they're all great at scoring, of course. 

"Sometimes the goal posts are very far apart and sometimes they're close to together and you can't score those goals that look easy from the outside. That's something that makes this World Cup so appealing. All the teams are more or less equal."

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Iain Strachan

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