ALAN VACCARO / AIPS* in SHARJAH: Uruguay’s players, at the final whistle of their defeat by Nigeria, collapsed to the ground in anguish as if bereaved.
They had lost their quarter-final 2-0 to Nigeria in the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013. So close to the top four yet so far. Through mumbled voices and tears they insisted that they had done all they could and regretted not having taken advantage of their opportunities.
Captain Fabrizio Buschiazzo said: “We didn’t punch when we had to. We could not convert and they scored their first goal early. Out of anxiety we ended up going for the result and they hurt us a lot by using that space.”
The controversy about overage Africans was also a theme for the Uruguayan defender, who said: “I am very angry to think that Nigeria are not 17. We are a under-17 team and are better than any other under-17s but but not against 35 and 40-year-olds which is how the Nigerians appeared to be to me.”
However, he added: “This is not an excuse . . . but it is clear that they don’t have the age” to play.
Marcio Benitez stressed that Uruguay was confident to get the result but failed although “doing everything”. “I don’t know what was missing. I’m very proud but sad to not move forward. We are going to have revenge”, he said.
Franco Pizzichillo, one of the outstanding players in the tournament for La Celeste, considered that “in the first few minutes we had clear chances we could not convert it had changed everything.” He and his team-mates were “very angry” because “the objective was to win the title.
“Now there is no choice but to keep going, keep improving and learning.”
Leandro Otormín not hide his sorrow at failing to capitalise on two clear chances in the first minutes of the game when the score was still level but Kevin Méndez found minor consolation in the effort Uruguay had committed to the game.
He said: “We gave everything; none of the players held anything back and gave everything for the best of the squad. That’s a little satisfaction with which to leave this championship”.
As striker Franco Acosta added: “Uruguay will go home with our heads held high, knowing we sweated everthing we had.”
* AIPS, the international sports journalists association, is running a Young Reporters course at the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 with the support of the local organising committee and FIFA
# # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # #