Tahiti: 'We've touched Brazilian hearts'

Despite being on the receiving end of 10-0 thrashing by Spain, Tahiti will have plenty of support against Uruguay.

    Tahiti: 'We've touched Brazilian hearts'
    Jonathan Tehau celebrates after scoring the only goal of Tahiti's campaign against Nigeria [GALLO/GETTY]

    The little team with the big heart will have one more chance to entertain their rapidly growing fan base on Sunday at the Confederations Cup.

    Tahiti, a team of mostly amateurs that has been outscored 16-1 in their opening two matches at the World Cup warm-up tournament, will face Uruguay at the Arena Pernambuco in their final Group B match.

    We may lose again on Sunday against Uruguay, but we've touched the hearts of the Brazilian people

    Eddie Etaeta, Tahiti coach

    Although Tahiti has little to play for after being eliminated following a 10-0 drubbing by Spain on Thursday, Uruguay will be expecting all three points as they try to reach the semifinals.

    Tahiti, however, have won over the Brazilian public and many other football fans around the globe. With only one professional player in the squad, the South Pacific islanders qualified for the Confederations Cup by winning the Oceania Nations Cup.

    Against world champions Spain on Thursday at the Maracana Stadium, Tahiti went on the attack right from the start and looked good despite the end result.

    "It's great to play in an offensive way, but your defence should not collapse,'' said Tahiti coach Eddie Etaeta, who was moved by the overwhelming support his team has received from the local fans.

    "We may lose again on Sunday against Uruguay, but we've touched the hearts of the Brazilian people.''

    'Huge match'

    Spain, who play Nigeria at the same time in Fortaleza, lead Group B with six points. Both Uruguay and Nigeria are next with three points, while Tahiti are last with zero.

    With all three points from an expected win, Uruguay will assure themselves a spot in the semifinals if Spain gets at least a draw against Nigeria. 

    That's why Uruguay has been more focused on Thursday's 2-1 win over Nigeria than their final group match against the Tahitians.

    "Since the draw we knew that this was the huge match to play," Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said of Thursday's victory.

    "We have taken a huge step toward the semifinals but we're not there yet.''

    Uruguay will be expected to have both Luis Suarez and Diego Forlan up front, and both will be capable of pouring in the goals.
    Etaeta will be ready for the onslaught.

    "It's true,"' Etaeta said, "that when you qualify and come to the Confederations Cup you immediately realise that it will be very difficult, almost impossible, to compete with such a high level of teams."

    SOURCE: AP


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