Uruguay close in on World Cup spot
Costa Rica and Uruguay take it down to the wire in their World Cup second-leg clash.
Last Modified: 17 Nov 2009 14:30 GMT

Uruguay's captain Diego Lugano scored the crucial winner in the first-leg [AFP]
Two years of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa will finally reach its conclusion on Wednesday evening when Uruguay and Costa Rica vie for the final tournament spot.

The fifth placed South American team and fourth placed Concacaf side will meet in their second leg match, with Uruguay in the box seat to qualify again after beating Costa Rica 1-0 in San Jose in Saturday's game.

Uruguay have the home ground advantage for their return leg and the Centenario stadium in Montevideo remains a great source of inspiration - it was there that they won the first World Cup and the first of their two titles in 1930.

"The Centenario is a stadium with a lot of history, which always pushes you forward and we hope Wednesday will be a day of glory for Uruguayans," said Uruguay captain Diego Lugano who scored the winner in Saturday's game.

"It's been more than two years of a very hard elimination series, there are two days and 90 minutes to go."

"We can't let this opportunity escape us. On Wednesday we have to give the (Uruguayan) people happiness."

Playoff history

Uruguay are no strangers to the playoffs, having also been involved in the final playoffs for the 2002 and 2006 World Cups.

"We're used to suffering, to winning in the final minutes, so once again we're going to have to go to the stadium with the same obstinacy," Uruguay midfielder Diego Perez said.

Uruguay have enjoyed mixed fortunes in their last two playoffs, both against Australia. They made it through to the 2002 World Cup but lost a penalty shootout to the Socceroos four years later.

Costa Rica, who must win in Montevideo to have any chance of reaching their fourth World Cup and third in succession, will be no pushovers though, showing good one-touch passing and ball control in the home leg.

Ledezma's behaviour has been an unwelcome distraction for the team [AFP]
They have, however, encountered an internal problem in the build-up with forward Froylan Ledezma quitting the team's headquarters before they flew to Montevideo on Sunday. He did not play on Saturday.

"Froylan Ledezma's decision has been taken as an act of indiscipline, so as from this moment the case is being handed to the disciplinary committee," the Costa Rican federation's general secretary Joseph Ramirez was quoted as saying on its website.

Costa Rica's Uruguayan physical trainer Marcelo Tulbovitch, who replaced suspended coach Rene Simoes on the bench in San Jose, said the team had overcome the disappointment of their home defeat and were confident for the return.

"It's not written that we can't win (in Montevideo), we've already started to lift the lads' morale, we'll recover and get (to the match) in good shape. It's the world final," he said.

Costa Rica boss Simoes remained positive after their defeat on Saturday.

"We must believe we can qualify. This is not over. There are 180 minutes. We are 1-0 down after the first half. It is not over at all. In 1950, Uruguay won the World Cup at the Maracana. Why can't we win at the Centenario?"

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