By Luis Ampuero
BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Uruguay should be feared at next year's World Cup in Brazil because they have the world's best striker in Luis Suarez and the self-belief to overcome big obstacles, former captain Enzo Francescoli said on Friday.
The twice world champions are in a tough section with former winners Italy and England plus Costa Rica in Group D.
"A World Cup isn't easy... but Uruguay are in good shape and it won't be easy for the teams who have to play them," Francescoli told Reuters in an interview.
"It's also going to be complicated by the places where they are going to play. They have to go to places that are hot and humid despite it being winter, but Uruguay have shown they can surpass themselves," the former midfielder said.
Francescoli, who played for Argentine giants River Plate in the mid-1980s and ended his career there in the 1990s after playing in France and Italy, was appointed the club's sporting director at the Monumental in Buenos Aires on Friday.
Uruguay open their World Cup campaign against Costa Rica in Fortaleza on June 14 before meeting England in Sao Paulo five days later and finishing against Italy in Natal on June 24.
Francescoli, who played for his country at the 1986 and 1990 World Cups, pointed out that Uruguay can tip the balance against their opponents with the skills of their forwards.
"Uruguay have very good attackers like Luis (Suarez) and (Paris St Germain's Edinson) Cavani, although today I think Luis is the best in that position," Francescoli said.
Liverpool striker Suarez is the English Premier League's top scorer with 19 goals in 13 appearances so far this season, playing to such a high standard that Reds captain Steven Gerrard has called him the best player in the world.
Oscar Tabarez's Uruguay will aim to at least repeat their fourth place at the 2010 South Africa World Cup which came after a tough South American qualifying campaign in which they booked the last ticket to the finals in a playoff against Costa Rica.
A year later, Uruguay won a record 15th Copa America in Argentina before a slump in form put their place at next year;s finals in Brazil in danger, recovering in time to go through again in a playoff, this time beating Asia's Jordan last month.
"In 2010, (Uruguay) were close to the objective (of World Cup triumph) so it was normal after a long time at a good level to suffer a depression," said the 52-year-old Francescoli.
Like his compatriots, Francescoli would love to see Uruguay cause another shock in Brazil next year to go with the "Maracanazo" of 1950 when they upset the host nation 2-1 at the giant Maracana stadium to win their second title.
"Sometimes it's nice to dream and think about the Maracanazo... but that is to dream," he said.
"In football you can dream, but you have to play the matches and see how they work out, how you get to (each match) because there are seven matches (going all the way) in which you have to be almost perfect and without setbacks."
Francescoli played for the Uruguay team that lost 1-0 to Diego Maradona's Argentina in the second round at the 1986 finals in Mexico which the Argentines went on to win. He also helped Uruguay reach the last 16 in Italy four years later. (Writing by Rex Gowar; Editing by Ken Ferris)
- Sports & Recreation
- Luis Suarez
- Enzo Francescoli