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Jobu reviews Uruguay’s Confederations Cup group stage win against Nigeria.

Boy, Uruguay is not making many friends in Africa (and I’m not talking about the racism suspension of Luis Suárez last year). It pretty much started at the 2010 World Cup. Uruguay beat South Africa in the group stage (South Africa didn’t make it out of the groups) and then beat Ghana in penalty kicks to knock them out of the quarter-finals (remember the controversy?). This year, they drew Nigeria in their group, and faced them on Thursday afternoon.

It was a huge game for both teams. Uruguay needed a win so that they could control their own fate against lowly Tahiti, and Nigeria needed to win because they face Spain to close out the group stage today. Uruguay just has to beat Tahiti, a team that has been outscored 16-1 so far in the group stage (6-1 by Nigeria, 10-0 by Spain)***. Nigeria, meanwhile, has to pull off a miracle against the defending World Cup Champions and consensus best team in the world. Not looking good for the Nigerians.

Anyway, let’s get back to Thursday’s game between Uruguay and Nigeria, shall we? This game was basically about Uruguayan legend Diego Forlán. Coach Ózcar Tabárez considered not playing the aging Forlán in this game, but “La Cachavacha” did take the field for this one. It was his 100th cap for the national team, which extended his record for national caps (Diego “El Ruso” Pérez is second with 84). Forlán wasn’t content with just becoming a centurion, however.

Diego Lugano celebrates with teammates after his 19th minute goal. (Antonio Calanni)
Diego Lugano celebrates with teammates after his 19th minute goal. (Antonio Calanni)

His precise cross to defender Diego Lugano (which Edinson Cavani either let go on purpose or missed) led to the opening goal in the 19th minute. Nigeria’s John Obi Mikel tied it with a pretty nice goal after being left basically alone in front of Uruguayan keeper Fernando Muslera in the 37th minute. That’s how the game went into the half. Uruguay had come out strong, taken the lead, but then eased off the throttle and played most of the rest of the half in their own territory, which led to the tie.

Adjustments were made at the half, and Uruguay came out strong again. Súarez led the charge on a counter attack in the 51st minute, passing to Cavani, who then fed Forlán on the left side of the net. Diego buried a clean, left-footed shot to the top left corner of the net, just past the diving Nigerian goalie, and Uruguay had the 2-1 advantage. The goal was Forlán’s 34th career notch for Uruguay, which put him back in first place all-time. He actually passed Suárez, who not only started the scoring play, but had just tied Forlán at 33 goals with his goal against Spain on Monday. Solid teamwork. Solid win.

As I mentioned before, the group stage will wrap up on today, as Uruguay will take on Tahiti at 3:00 PM EST. All signs point to a Uruguayan win, but if there’s one thing we, as Uruguayans, know, it’s to not count any chickens before they hatch (or cows. we eat a lot of beef). Uruguay can qualify in three ways. If Spain does the right thing and beats Nigeria, then all Uruguay needs to do is tie or beat Tahiti. If Nigeria manages to shock the world and take out Spain, then Uruguay basically needs to beat Tahiti like 8-0. This might sound ridiculous, but with Forlán, Suárez and Cavani up front, I wouldn’t rule it out. Hopefully, we don’t have to worry about that. Uruguay shouldn’t have trouble beating Tahiti, and Spain should also triumph.

Win, lose or draw, we’ll be back to review the Tahiti game, so here are some highlights from the Nigerian game get you through the next couple days:

*** Note: I was on the phone with my mom early on Thursday morning, before the games were scheduled to begin, and I made a joke that, if Nigeria had beaten Tahiti 6-1, then Spain would win 10-0. It was supposed to be a ridiculously unattainable score. I laughed afterwords… like ha ha who’s gonna score 10 goals in a real game? While the final score made me seem like a great predictor, it kind of made my joke less funny. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Featured image courtesy of: Getty Images

Martin Stezano

About Martin Stezano

Uruguayan born and American raised with a unique perspective on the domestic and international sports scenes. It will both tickle your funny bone and enlighten your mind. Love it or hate it...just read it.

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