The Uruguay senior side may be blossoming at the moment after a semi-final finish at the 2010 World Cup and victory at the 2011 Copa America, but now the younger generation are ready to try and emulate the success of their elders as the Olympics looms.
The squad travelling to London for this summer’s highly anticipated games is one of mixed ages and experience. Liverpool star Luis Suarez and Napoli talisman Edinson Cavani are two of the three over-age players coach Oscar Tabarez, who also manages the senior team, has selected. And they will undoubtedly be significant assets if Uruguay are to muster up a competitive challenge.
But there is no hiding the fact that the senior side is ageing, and the London Games may well provide the platform the Uruguayan youngsters are craving to develop into more mature individuals and some, you never know, could break into the first-team set up if impressive tournaments are achieved.
The country’s under-20 team is one of roar talent, and renowned for its success in the South American Youth Championship, where last year the team finished as runners-up. 21-year-old Bologna playmaker Gastron Ramirez, who has three caps for the under-20 side and nine for the senior, has been linked with various top level European outfits and fellow forward, Abel Hernandez, also 21 – who has six goals in 10 games for the under-20′s - will be looking to stake a claim after his indifferent season with Palermo last year.
The right blend is there. The older, more wiry old foxes will look to benefit the series of fresh, youngsters flooding through the nation’s ranks and if Tabarez, 65, can pull the strings just like he has done so well for the senior side of recent times – then there is cause for optimism,
Tabarez is currently enduring a splendid second spell as chief of the national team. “El Maestro”, as he is also known as, has vast knowledge of international football at major competitions, and possesses the coolness, tactical intelligence and modern thinking that allows him to change a system or tactic so quickly and efficiently.
As touched on, the key players are sure to be Suarez who had a fantastic season with Liverpool, Cavani who is growing and growing at Napoli, Sebastian Coates who showed us a glimpse of what he’s all about with his astonishing bicycle kick against Queens Park Rangers last campaign and Hernandez, who can roast defenders for pace when given the space to exploit.
It’s Uruguay’s first participation in the Olympic Games since the gold medal periods of the 1920s. The ability and strength in depth is in place, now it’s all about dealing with the pressure that comes with featuring at such a popular, well watched event.