Tabarez ready to school op­po­nents again

The Sun (Malaysia) - - FRONT PAGE -

URUGUAY head into their first game against Egypt with the fo­cus on stars such as Luiz Suarez but with their World Cup hopes equally rest­ing with veteran coach Os­car Tabarez, who is bat­tling chronic ill­ness.

To­day’s game in Yeka­ter­in­burg will see the 71-year-old take charge of the tough South Amer­i­can side at his fourth World Cup fi­nals, the first be­ing back in 1990.

In all he has been in charge of Uruguay’s na­tional side for more than 180 games.

Along the way Tabarez, nick­named El Mae­stro (the teacher), known for his un­demon­stra­tive man­ner, guided Uruguay to a fourth-place fin­ish in South Africa in 2010, and each time en­sured his team has got out of the group stage.

He has done so while bat­tling a de­bil­i­tat­ing neu­ro­log­i­cal con­di­tion, Guil­lain-Barre syn­drome, which se­verely re­stricts his move­ment – and in Rus­sia may pos­si­bly be­come the first coach in World Cup his­tory to use a wheel­chair.

So far, he has been spotted over­see­ing Uruguay’s prepa­ra­tions at their Bor sports cen­tre base on Mon­day, just out­side the city of Nizhny Nov­gorod, walking with the aid of a crutch.

But de­spite the painful per­sonal hur­dles, it is clear who is in charge of the Ce­leste.

“When “the Mae­stro” speaks, a fly does not fly,” one of the Uruguayan jour­nal­ists fol­low­ing the team said as the play­ers trained in Bor.

Tabarez, a for­mer pri­mary school teacher who also guided Uruguay to a Copa Amer­ica ti­tle in 2011, has said pre­vi­ously that his con­di­tion does not im­pact upon his job and his health ap­pears bet­ter in the ap­proach to Rus­sia.

“I put ev­ery­thing with phys­io­ther­apy, with doc­tors and treat­ments be­cause I’m not think­ing of leav­ing,” he said.

Some had ex­pected him to step down af­ter the last World Cup, but Tabarez con­tin­ues.

Suarez, Edin­son Ca­vani and Diego Godin sup­port the coach at ev­ery step and con­sider him “un­touch­able”.

“The team knows that El Mae­stro does not have to scream to tell you what to do,” Suarez said.

Af­ter Egypt, Uruguay will re­turn to Nizhny Nov­gorod and pre­pare for matches against Saudi Ara­bia and hosts Rus­sia, in a weak-look­ing Group A.

The ex­pec­ta­tion is that by the end of those matches, Tabarez will have con­tin­ued his per­fect record of en­sur­ing Uruguay again progress into the World Cup knock­out stage. – AFP

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