Uruguay became Wednesday the last team to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, with a goal-less draw against Jordan in the return leg of their play-off in Montevideo.
The Uruguayan side made the most of their 5-0 win last week in Amman and just went through the motions to seal their qualification before a full-capacity crowd of 55,000 at the Centenario stadium.
Aware that obtaining a World Cup berth was virtually impossible, Jordan focused on defending to avoid a repeat of last week’s thrashing. They defended with up to eight men, and while Luis Suarez in particular was very active in the hosts’ attack, Uruguay never found the net.
“We did not come here looking for a thrashing. Thrashings are circumstantial,” said Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez.
“Obviously the (first-leg) thrashing made our rivals prepare the match differently, emphasizing defence, and they achieved their objective.” The inexperienced Jordanians, who came third in the Asian qualifiers, were until last week hoping to make it to the first World Cup in their history.
The match ended with a firework display, but fans at times signalled a weak performance that reminded many of Uruguay’s recent troubles.
Uruguay, who came fourth in South Africa 2010 and went on to win the Copa America a year later, struggled through the South American qualifiers and failed to get one of the region’s four direct World Cup berths. However, the team with Edinson Cavani, Suarez and Diego Lugano, among other world-class players, were quick to make amends in the first leg of the play-off.
This was Uruguay’s fourth consecutive World Cup play-off. They won three and lost one, against Australia ahead of Germany 2006.
Uruguay will have the benefit of being seed in next month’s World Cup draw. Brazil 2014 is set to mark the first time Uruguay, the 1930 and 1950 world champions, play back-to-back World Cups since 1986-90.
Uruguay’s qualification also means that the eight teams that have lifted the trophy in the history of the World Cup will be playing in Brazil.
Brazil was also the scene of one of the most glorious moments in Uruguayan football, also considered one of the biggest upsets in the history of the sport.
On July 16, 1950, Uruguay beat Brazil 2-1 in Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium — where the final is set to be played next year — to become world champions.
Brazil, who only needed a draw before their excited fans to claim the trophy, due to the round-robin format of that year’s final stage, were hugely disappointed.
This is the third time Tabarez, 66, leads Uruguay — a country of just 3.2 million people sandwiched between Argentina and Brazil — to a World Cup. He previously took them to Italy 1990 and South Africa 2010.
The following are the 32 teams that have qualified for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil:
Uruguay filled the final qualifying berth on Wednesday. The draw for the tournament will be held Dec 6, reports Xinhua.
Europe: Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, England, Russia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Portugal, France
Asia: Japan, Australia, Iran, South Korea
South America: Brazil (Hosts), Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay
North America: United States, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico
Africa: Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Ghana, Algeria
Oceania: No qualifiers.