Uruguay's potential driving Oscar Washington Tabarez, 71, to another World Cup tilt

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Oscar Washington Tabarez hauled himself onto a plane for the marathon journey from South America to South Korea, where his Uruguay side are in action on Friday, before taking on Japan next Tuesday.

It is just over 30 years since Tabarez first took charge of Uruguay, in a spell that ended with second round elimination at the 1990 World Cup in Italy.

Uruguay then failed to make it to three of the next four World Cups, and fell in the group phase of the one they did reach. It seemed that the great days were well and truly over for the first-ever world champions. With a population little over 3 million, it was impossible to see how Uruguay could continue to be competitive in a globalised environment.

And then, at the start of 2006, Tabarez returned. A qualified teacher as well as a former centre-back, he had been applying his mind to the search for a way forward. The results since, have been a dazzling success.

In the three World Cups on his watch, Uruguay have reached, respectively, the semifinals, the second round and the quarterfinals. Even more impressive has been the constant flow of talent which has come through Uruguay's under-20 team, the undoubted priority of the Tabarez nike jerseys cheap china

The current crop of youngsters are so good that, at the age of 71 and with a degenerative nerve ailment, the coach is fired with enthusiasm for the future, and has signed on for four more years.9

There have been hiccups along the way -- most notably last month. With the Uruguayan FA in chaos (FIFA have appointed a committee to sort things out), there was no one around to offer Tabarez his new deal. And so youth team coach Fabio Coito took charge. It is a reflection of how smoothly the national team is running, that Uruguay beat Mexico 4-1 in a September friendly in impressive nike nfl jerseys from china

"In the 12 previous years there have been five different FA executives, so all of this is nothing new for me," said Tabarez this week at a news conference.

"If we had a championship for professionalism, then in South America Uruguay would be battling against relegation with Bolivia. I always hear that we have a third-world domestic game and a first-world national team."

Tabarez is clearly the main factor behind the second half of that sentence. His work over the last 13 years has been based on the acknowledgement that domestic Uruguayan football could no longer serve as much of a measure of quality. It was up to the FA to ensure the future of the national team, by identifying and developing youngsters good enough to thrive in top class global football -- the chief characteristics identified by him and his staff were speed of movement, speed of thought and speed of technical excellence.

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